Garuda Cancels Some Flights as Indonesia's Merapi Erupts

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(Bloomberg) -- PT Garuda Indonesia, the country’s flag carrier, has canceled 14 flights to Yogyakarta after a volcano about 19 miles north of the city erupted and forced authorities to close the local airport.

The airfield, 520 kilometers (323 miles) southeast of Jakarta on the island of Java, was closed at about 10:42 a.m. on Friday local time, and reopened at 2:17 p.m., state air-navigation operator AirNav Indonesia said in a statement Friday.

Mount Merapi’s eruptions are minor, caused by accumulation of volcanic gases, and shouldn’t lead to further outbursts, the Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation at the nation’s Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, said in a statement, adding its status is “normal.” Other airlines that canceled flights include those operated by the Lion Group.

Indonesia is located on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, an arc of volcanoes and geological fault lines surrounding the Pacific Basin. According to the Volcanological Survey of Indonesia, the archipelago has about 120 active volcanoes. It has had two of the world’s biggest volcanic eruptions in the past two centuries: Mount Tambora in 1815 and Krakatau in 1883.

Last year, Mount Agung on the neighboring island of Bali erupted and forced the airport at the popular holiday destination to close several times. Yogyakarta is also a prominent tourist spot for Buddhist pilgrims.

The volcanic ash and gases spewed can be dangerous to planes passing through the plume. In 1982, all four engines on a British Airways Boeing Co. 747 stalled when the plane encountered the debris from Mount Galunggung in Indonesia. The plane dropped for almost four miles before the pilot was able to restart three engines and make an emergency landing in Jakarta.

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