Manado, North Sulawesi (ANTARA) - PT Angkasa Pura I (AP I) halted the operation of Sam Ratulangi Airport in Manado, North Sulawesi until Wednesday, May 1 at noon local time over volcanic ash from Mount Ruang's eruption in Sitaro Islands District.

"We have extended the temporary closure of Sam Ratulangi Airport until tomorrow afternoon," the airport's general manager, Maya Damayanti, remarked on Tuesday.

Damayanti stated that the airport authority would continue to coordinate with the Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), and all stakeholders before resuming operation.

"We are doing this for the sake of aviation safety," Damayanti remarked.

She noted that thousands of passengers had to postpone departures to and from Manado due to Mount Ruang's eruption.

The airport was also covered with thin ash from the eruption, with some passengers seen wearing a mask at the airport.

Earlier, the airport had been closed temporarily on April 18-22, with 162 planes affected and 20,332 passengers stranded, both departures and arrivals.

During the closure, the airport operator focused on maintaining flight safety, such as cleaning volcanic ash from the runway, taxiway, and apron and also conducting hourly paper tests to check the volcanic ash at the airport's runway.

The Center for Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation (PVMBG) stated that visual and instrumental monitoring showed a surge in Mount Ruang's volcanic activity that its alert status was increased from Level III to Level IV starting Tuesday at 1:30 a.m. local time (GMT+8).

Its eruption spewed volcanic ash up to five kilometers (km) high from its crater, accompanied by hot clouds at 8:35 a.m. local time on Tuesday.

The PVMBG urged residents located around the volcano not to enter areas within a six-km radius of the center of Mount Ruang's active crater.

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Translator: Nancy Lynda T, Resinta Sulistiyandari
Editor: Aditya Eko Sigit Wicaksono
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