Ternate, N Maluku (ANTARA News) - The Sultan Babullah airport of Ternate is still closed at least until Dec. 28 as Mount Gamalama continues activities.

Deputy mayor of Ternate Arifin Djafar said on Thursday Mount Gamalama was still active spewing volcanic ashes that it was too risky to allow the airport to resume operation.

The airport has been closed since Dec 19 after the volcano erupted scattering volcanic ashes over the island including the airport.

The last aircraft using the port was a Batik Air taking off at 08.45 local time for Makassar of South Sulawesi before the airport was declared closed at 09.00.

Hundreds of passengers planning to leave the island for a number of destinations in the country were forced to cancel or postpone their plans.

The passengers already held the tickets but the aircraft were not allowed to take off or to land to pick them from the island.

The airport authorities have asked for extension for the closure of the airport until Dec 28, but it is not unlikely that the reopening would come earlier or have to be put off again depending on the condition in the following days.

Arifin said the city authorities had made preparation for evacuation of people from Ternate to neighboring islands such as Tidore and Halmahera.

On Wednesday, the volcano seemed to be less threatening and the weather was clearer that the airport workers started cleaning the airstrip.

Head of the Sultan Babullah airport administration Taslim Badarudin said it would take two days to clean the airport to be ready for operation again.

However, according to the meteorology and geology office, heavy rain is expected to continue to fall for the next several days on the island.

The volcano monitoring post at the city of Ternate recorded an increase in the activities of the volcano.

The island was still rocked by volcanic eruptions and the angry volcano still was spewing black volcanic materials, head of the monitoring post Darno Lamane said.

Volcanic earthquakes were recorded at least four times on Thursday, Darno said.

The status of the intensity of activities at level III is not yet changed to warn the people to remain on the alert, he said. ***3*** (AS/f001)

(T.SYS/B/H-ASG/F001) 26-12-2014 10:37:09

Editor: Aditia Maruli Radja
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