JAKARTA: The eruption of Mount Ruang in the Sitaro Islands, North Sulawesi, has led to the temporary closure of Sam Ratulangi Airport in Manado, about 100 kilometres away, due to safety concerns.

The airport will remain closed until further notice after volcanic ash was detected during field observations and paper tests conducted at 7 am Central Indonesian Time.

“We apologise for the delay in passenger departures. This is a natural occurrence beyond our control,“ said Maya Damayanti, the airport’s general manager, as quoted by Indonesia’s news agency, Antara.

Flights from Manado to Jakarta, Makassar and Sorong, as well as arrivals from China and Ternate, are currently experiencing delays.

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On Wednesday, the country’s vulcanology centre, PVMBG, raised Mount Ruang’s status to Level IV, or “Alert”, at 9 am in response to increasing volcanic activity since the beginning of the month.

Residents near Mount Ruang have been urged to stay out of an area within a six-kilometre radius of the centre of the volcano’s active crater.

On Tuesday, an eruption occurred at 9.45 pm with a column height estimated at 2,000 metres above the summit, according to Indonesia’s disaster management agency, BNPB.

Its spokesperson, Abdul Muhari, explained in a statement that the situation escalated further, with the ash column reaching 2,500 metres at 1.08 am.

Another eruption occurred at 9.15 pm, with a column of ash reaching 3,000 metres, accompanied by rumbling sounds and tremors.

Reports from the Sitaro Regional Disaster Management Agency indicate that the eruption caused ashfall, as well as stones and gravel, to reach coastal settlements in Tagulandang.

“Several residents were injured by these projectiles and have received treatment,“ said Abdul Muhari.

At least 828 residents, including 506 from Laingpatehi village and 322 from Pumpente village, have been relocated to safer locations, he added.

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