JAKARTA, Indonesia – Continuous eruptions from an Indonesian volcano spewed clouds of ash into the skies Wednesday, forcing some international airlines to again cancel flights and President Barack Obama to cut short his visit.
Mount Merapi, hundreds of miles (kilometers) east of Jakarta, has belched volcanic debris high into the air for more than two weeks, killing at least 153 people and causing travel chaos.
Obama sliced several hours off his whirlwind 24-hour tour to Indonesia on Wednesday and flew to South Korea for the Group of 20 summit.
Syaiful Bahri, who oversees operations at Jakarta's international airport, said concerns about the ash also forced several international carriers to again cancel flights into and out of the capital. Among them were Cathay Pacific, Value Air, Qantas and Malaysia Air.
One of the world's most active volcanoes, Merapi has erupted many times in the last century, killing more than 1,400. But last Friday was the mountain's deadliest day since 1930, with nearly 100 lives lost.
Merapi was still issuing explosive roars as it shot clouds of gas and debris up to 3,000 feet (1 kilometer) in the air as ash and pyroclastic flows poured down its slopes.
Indonesia, a vast archipelago of 235 million people, is prone to earthquakes and volcanoes because it sits along the Pacific "Ring of Fire," a horseshoe-shaped string of faults that lines the Pacific Ocean.