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Jakarta declared no-fly zone after volcano blast

President Barack Obama may not be allowed to land in Jakarta

Nov 06, 2010

Just days before President Barack Obama's visit to Indonesia, all international airlines canceled flights into the country’s capital city Saturday after a volcano hundreds of miles to the west unleashed its most powerful eruption in a century.

The cancellation also means passengers leaving Jakarta for overseas had to call off their trips.

Corporate secretary of Soekarno-Hatta Airport operator PT Angkasa Pura II, Hari Cahyono, told international carriers began stopping flights to Jakarta at 4 p.m. He said many of them were put on hold in Malaysia and Singapore.

“The volcanic ash presence in the airways surrounding Jakarta could cause severe damage to our aircraft and engines which could impair the safety of our operations including passengers and crew," said Azharuddin Osman, director of operations for Malaysia Airlines, told AP.

A volcano hundreds of kilometres to the west unleashed its most powerful eruption in a century, incinerating villagers as they fled a searing gas cloud.

The number of people killed by Mount Merapi in the last two weeks has climbed to 138, as a tiny hospital at the foot of the mountain struggles to cope with survivors, some with burns on up to 95 per cent of their bodies.

Indonesia's most volatile mountain unleashed a surge of searing gas, rocks and debris on Friday that raced down its slopes at highway speeds, mowing down the slope-side village of Bronggang and leaving a trail of charred corpses in its path.

It continued to rumble on Saturday, at times spitting ash up to eight kilometres in the air, dusting windshields, rooftops and leaves on trees hundreds of kilometres to the west.

Among the other carriers temporarily suspending flights were Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Lufthansa, Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia. Domestic flights were unaffected.

The eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajokul volcano in April forced the closure of most European airports for a week and led to the cancellation of over 100,000 flights.

President Barack Obama may not be allowed to land in Jakarta

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