As pilgrims try to reach families to enjoy the Eid celebrations, Volcanic Ash closes a major airport

Ash spewing from an erupting volcano closed the airport serving Indonesia’s second-biggest city on Thursday (Jul 16), as millions of people were travelling across the archipelago ahead of the Muslim holiday of Eid. The shutdown of the international airport serving Surabaya, on the main island of Java, came days after the airport on the nearby holiday island of Bali was closed by ash from the same volcano, stranding thousands of holidaymakers.

Authorities ordered the closure of Juanda Airport near Surabaya between 1:30pm and 8:30pm (9.30pm Singapore time) due to increased activity from Mount Raung, which has been erupting violently in recent weeks, airport spokesman Liza Anindya told AFP. “The concern is that the ash might affect flights,” she said. The closure came during peak holiday season in Indonesia, when people in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country flood out of cities and head to their home towns and villages to spend Eid with their families. The celebration, which comes at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, is expected to fall on Friday in Indonesia. Authorities raised the alert status of Mount Raung, about 180 kilometres west of Surabaya, to the second-highest level at the end of last month as the volcano began emitting clouds of hot ash and lava.