16 Feb 2014

Airports near volcano start to reopen

12:06 pm on 16 February 2014

Disaster officials say seismic activity has decreased at the Mount Kelud in Indonesia following last week's eruption but the highest alert remains in place.

More than 56,000 people were forced to flee their homes and four people were killed when the volcano in heavily-populated eastern Java spewed red-hot ash and rocks high into the air.

Cities and airports as far as 500km away were coated in a layer of ash and thousands of passengers were stranded as seven airports were forced to close.

Several airports resumed operations on Saturday, including Indonesia's third busiest, Juanda airport in Surabaya, located about 90km north of the volcano.

The national disaster mitigation agency said it was maintaining a 10km evacuation radius and the highest-level alert on Mount Kelud, though seismic activity had lessened.

The environment ministry said on Saturday air quality near the volcano remained "very unhealthy" as government emergency response teams struggled to distribute food, masks and blankets to thousands of evacuees in shelters.