Obama cuts visit short as volcano toll reaches 150
Continuous eruptions from an Indonesian volcano spewed clouds of ash into the skies yesterday, forcing some international airlines to again cancel flights and President Barack Obama to cut short his visit.
Mount Merapi, hundreds of kilometres east of Jakarta, has belched volcanic debris high into the air for more than two weeks, killing at least 153 people and causing travel chaos.
Mr Obama cut several hours off his whirlwind 24-hour tour to Indonesia yesterday and flew to South Korea for the Group of 20 summit.
Syaiful Bahri, who oversees operations at Jakarta's international airport, said that concerns about the ash had also forced several international carriers to again cancel flights into and out of the capital. Among them were Cathay Pacific, Value Air, Qantas and Malaysia Air.
One of the world's most active volcanoes, Merapi has erupted many times in the last century, killing more than 1,400. But last Friday was the mountain's deadliest day since 1930, with nearly 100 lives lost.
Merapi was still issuing explosive roars yesterday as it shot clouds of gas and debris up to a kilometre in the air as ash and pyroclastic flows poured down its slopes.