Mount Ruang eruption: Sarawak tourism minister says flights cancelled for safety reasons

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUCHING, April 18 — Sarawak Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Minister Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah today urged airline passengers to be patient over the abrupt cancellation of flights to and from Sarawak due to the eruption of Mount Ruang in Northern Sulawesi, Indonesia.

He said he believes that Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and low-cost carrier AirAsia are taking a precautionary measure for the safety of passengers.

“I believe this one is just temporary. They have to make sure that the flights are OK because the dust from any volcano eruption will definitely affect the flight... the planes, actually, when they are in the air,” he told reporters during his Hari Raya Aidilfitri open house at the Penview Convention Centre Kuching (PCCK) here.

“That is why for the safety of passengers in those flights, I think that they had to take precautions,” he said.

He acknowledged that the cancellation of flights to and from destinations in Sarawak and Sabah was unexpected.

“I was quite surprised to see something like this happening not very far from Borneo,” he added.

MAS announced the cancellation of 19 flights, while AirAsia cancelled all flights to and from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) to destinations in Sarawak and Sabah, until further notice.

Mount Ruang, located in the Northern Sulawesi province, first erupted at 9.45pm local time yesterday, according to Indonesian volcanology agency, sending billowing clouds of smoke and ash into the sky.

This was followed by another four more eruptions, with the volcanology agency raising the alert level for the 725m-high mountain.