Yogyakarta (ANTARA News) - The ashes of erupting Mount Merapi blanketed Yogyakarta city`s sky, forcing the Adisutjipto International Airport authorities to close the airport`s runway on Friday morning.

"The airport is closed for three hours from 06.00 to 09.00 AM because the runway is blanketed by volcanic ashes. This is for flight safety," said the airport`s general manager, Agus Andriyanto.

As a result of the Mount Merapi` previous eruptions, the Adisutjipto Airport was closed due to poor visibility but this time`s temporary closure was mainly triggered by the volcanic ashes.

The thick ashes covering the runway forced the authorities to close the airport for flight security reasons, he said.

"At the moment, the airport is closed for three hours but if the situation remains unchanged, the closure can be extended," he said.

The airport`s authorities sent four fire trucks and two runway sweepers to clean the runway from the volcanic ashes, he said.

In another development, the death toll of the erupting Mount Merapi`s hot clouds had increased from 12 to at least 14 on Friday morning at 07:30 AM local time.

The bodies had been evacuated to Dr.Sardjito general hospital in Yogyakarta city for postmortem checks, the hospital sources said.

Since the first eruption on October 26, the total death toll had reached at least 53 people.

According to rescue workers, the majority of fatalities were from Argomulyo village, Cangkringan subdistrict, Sleman district, Yogyakarta Province.

The victims were brought from the village by rescue workers and Indonesian Army`s special forces personnel to Dr.Sardjito general hospital in Yogyakarta on Friday morning.

Besides killing a dozen residents, the latest hot clouds of the Mount Merapi, which continued to spew lava, ash and hot clouds since Thursday, also caused about 35 locals to sustain burns.

Among them were five toddlers. They were all rushed to Dr.Sardjito general hospital for medical treatment.

Due to the intensive large eruptions, the safety zone was extended to 20 kilometers.
The Mount Merapi, located exactly on the border between two provinces, lies geographically close to Yogyakarta but is officially part of the Central Java, and has continuously erupted since October 26, spewing hot clouds into the air and sending lava down its many slopes.

The disaster had not only killed tens of people but had also displaced tens of thousands of others from their homes.

The Mount Merapi is one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia, whose eruptions have regularly been detected since 1548.(*)