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4 int'l airlines suspend flights to Indonesia due to volcanic ash.

JAKARTA, Nov. 6 Kyodo

At least four international airlines suspended flights to and from Indonesia on Saturday following concerns about volcanic ash from repeated eruptions of Mt. Merapi on Java island.

The 2,968-meter-high volcano, which dominates the landscape immediately north of the major city of Yogyakarta, has been spewing hot clouds and volcanic ash into the sky and sending hot lava down its slopes since Oct. 26.

As of Saturday, the eruptions have killed at least 116 people and injured more than 1,800, while displacing more than 200,000.

The volcanic ash has reached several cities in West Java Province, including a small town near Jakarta.

''Flights to and from Jakarta are affected due to the volcanic ash from Mt. Merapi. Today's flights have been delayed and will depart tomorrow if conditions improve,'' Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways said on its website.

Singapore Airlines canceled seven scheduled flights Saturday to and from Jakarta due to the volcanic ash and another one scheduled for early Sunday morning. It said updates about flights for Sunday will be provided as additional information becomes available.

Malaysia Airlines did likewise and said it ''will continue observing the Indonesian air space to ascertain the safety of flight operations into the area.''

Malaysia's low-cost carrier Air Asia, which has suspended its flights to Yogyakarta for several days already, on Saturday also suspended flights to Bandung.

Volcanic ash has forced Yogyakarta's Adisutjipto International Airport to temporarily suspend operations since Friday.

Mt. Merapi straddles the provinces of Central Java and Yogyakarta. The series of eruptions this year were the worst since 1872, according to Raden Sukhyar, head of the Geology Agency at the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources.

On Thursday, the Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation declared a 20-kilometer danger zone around the peak, which has erupted regularly for hundreds of years.

Thousands of people normally reside on the flanks of Mt. Merapi, with some villages located as high as 1,700 meters above sea level.
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Geographic Code:9INDO
Date:Nov 8, 2010
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