Update as of 4:58 a.m. EST: Local media reports have stated that 32 people are undergoing treatment at the PKU Muhammadiyah hospital in Bantul, Yogyakarta. Reuters reported that 76,000 people have been evacuated so far, and seven airports have closed down and are only expected to reopen on Saturday. Virgin Australia Airlines is reportedly canceling all flights to and from Phuket, Denpasar, Christmas Island and Cocos Island as it cannot safely fly within 100 nautical miles of the ash cloud.
A volcano on the Indonesian island of Java erupted late on Thursday night sending plumes of smoke and ash high into the air, forcing the closure of regional airports and the evacuation of thousands of people.
According to local media reports, Mount Kelud, 87 miles south of Indonesia’s second-biggest city, Surabaya, had an explosive eruption overnight, killing two people, as parts of their homes collapsed. The cloud from the eruption could be seen as far as six miles to the west, forcing a shutdown of airports in Surabaya and in the cities of Yogyakarta and Solo, reports said.
Sutopo Nugroho, National Disaster Mitigation Agency’s spokesman, reportedly told Reuters via telephone: "Areas to the west of Mount Kelud, including central Java, Yogyakarta, Cilacap, Magelang, Temanggung and Boyolali are still experiencing showers of ash because last night the biggest eruption... threw sand and ash 17 km (11 miles) into the air to the west."
"We don't have data yet on how many people have been evacuated in total. We can say 200,000 people were affected. We received reports of deaths but we have not verified them yet," Nugroho reportedly said.
However, a CNN report Friday reported that 66,000 people had been ordered to evacuate the area and that flights at four regional airports -- two in East Java and two in Central Java -- were canceled because of the ash from the eruption. An estimated 200,000 people reside within six miles of Mt. Kelud, which is one of 130 active volcanoes in Indonesia.
Muhammad Hendrasto, head of the country's volcano monitoring agency, reportedly said that the volcano had erupted fiercely for about 90 minutes after authorities raised an alert.
According to a post on Twitter from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the head of the National Disaster Management Agency and the governor of East Java will oversee emergency-response activities, including the handling of evacuees. The President also wrote on his Twitter account that he was planning a visit to the disaster site soon.
According to reports, the country’s disaster agency said that tremors could still be felt after the volcano blew up, but scientists had said that there would be no more eruptions.
At least 11 people were reportedly killed earlier this month in northern Sumatra, when Mount Sinabung erupted. The volcano spewed out lava and ash for almost a month, destroying crops and forcing thousands of residents to evacuate.