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Volcanic ash forces flight cancellations (The West)
Picture: Reuters

UPDATED: A volcanic eruption in Indonesia has affected flights between Australia and Asia.

Hundreds of thousands of Indonesians were ordered to evacuate and three international airports were closed today after a volcano on the main island of Java erupted, hurling red-hot ash and rocks.

The alert status for Mt Kelud, one of the most dangerous volcanoes on densely populated Java, was raised late Thursday just hours before it started erupting.

Indonesia orders 200,000 to evacuate

Virgin Australia said the impact of volcanic ash from Mt Kelud had forced the airline to change its flight schedule.

"This has resulted in the cancellation of all Phuket, Denpasar, Christmas Island and Cocos Island flights today," Virgin said.

Picture: Reuters

Qantas said flight paths from Australia to Singapore had been altered as a result of the volcanic ash cloud in Java.

International airports in the Javanese cities of Surabaya, Yogyakarta and Solo were closed temporarily, Transport Ministry director general of aviation Herry Bakti said on Metro TV, which showed images of grounded planes covered in ash.

Perth Airport said some international arrivals and departures were experiencing delays or cancellations due to the volcanic ash cloud over Java.

"Passengers are advised to check with their airline for the most up-to-date information regarding their flight," Perth Airport announced this afternoon.

Domestic flights within Australia had not been affected.

Two Jetstar flights scheduled to leave Perth for international airports in Surabaya and Jakarta this morning were cancelled.

Virgin Australia apologised for the "inconvenience".

"However, the safety of our customers is the highest priority," Virgin said.

"Our meteorologists are continually monitoring the weather situation, in consultation with the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre in Darwin, and we will recommence normal operations as soon as the volcanic ash cloud safely allows it."

Picture: Reuters

Two people have been crushed to death in Indonesia after the volcanic eruption blanketed rooftops with rocks and ash, causing homes to cave in.

The man and woman in their 60s were killed in two separate homes in the sub-district of Malang on Java, where Mt Kelud erupted on Thursday night.

“The homes were poorly built and seemed to have collapsed easily under the weight,” National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugoro said.

Picture: Reuters