A powerful volcanic eruption in Mount Kelud in Indonesia's main island of Java has forced at least 200,000 people to evacuate and shut down three international airports temporarily.
Mouth Kelud sent plumes of smoke and ash high into the air, spewing debris across a vast area surrounding it. The huge explosion was heard as far away as 200km, said authorities.
Officials have raised the alert to its highest level and ordered evacuation of people residing within a 10 km radius. Troops have also been deployed to help residents to vacate the area.
At least two deaths have been reported when a house in Kelud's vicinity collapsed due to the eruption.
The volcanic eruption took place within 90 minutes of the authorities raising the alert level to its peak.
Fears that the debris could cause severe damage to aircraft as well as low visibility prompted the shutdown of three major airports at Surabaya, Solo and Yogyakarta.
"Juanda Airport in Surabaya, Adisumarmo Airport in Solo and Adisucipto Airport in Yogyakarta are still closed. Areas to the west of Mount Kelud including Central Java, Yogyakarta, Cilacap, Magelang, Temenggung and Boyolali are still experiencing showers of ash because last night the biggest eruption... threw sand and ash 17 kilometers into the air to the west," said National Disaster Agency spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, according to reports.
Some of the residents who had fled are said to have returned to their homes.
Kelud lies about 730km from the Indonesian capital Jakarta. The 1,731-metre high peak is located in eastern Java, the country's most densely populated island. Scientists have been closely observing the rumbling for several weeks but they did not expect a sudden eruption.
Kelud is one the 130 active volcanoes in the country prone to deadly earthquakes and volcanic eruptions as Indonesia falls directly within the "Ring of Fire".