MOT to closely monitor Mount Ruang volcanic eruptions – Loke

HULU SELANGOR, May 1 (Bernama) — The Ministry of Transport (MOT) is closely monitoring the latest developments of the volcanic eruptions at Mount Ruang, Indonesia which was reported to have erupted three times yesterday spewing lava with ash spreading as far as Malaysia.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke said that thus far the eruption of Mount Ruang has affected some airspace in Tawau, Sabah, causing some flights to the district to be diverted to Kota Kinabalu yesterday.

He said any decision including the closure of airspace and any national airport would be decided by the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) taking into account safety factors.

“CAAM has the right to make decisions if there is a need to close national airspace and airports. That is their authority, not the minister, (and) they only need to inform the minister of the decision.

“However, if the situation (eruption) does not affect our airspace, why close it and I think the act of closing the airport is only the last step that will be taken if necessary,” he said here today.

Loke, who is also the DAP secretary-general, said this when met by reporters after holding campaign activities with Pakatan Harapan (PH) candidate Pang Sock Tao, who is representing the Unity Government, for the Kuala Kubu Baharu (KKB) state by-election here.

Also present was Digital Minister who is also DAP national deputy chairman Gobind Singh Deo.

International media today reported that Mount Ruang erupted three times yesterday.

The volcano had erupted on April 18, disrupting several domestic flights and affecting tens of thousands of passengers.

The eruption from Mount Ruang was reported to have spewed lava and ash more than five kilometres into the sky with the Indonesian Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysical Agency (BMKG) reporting that volcanic ash had reached the island of Borneo, which is shared between Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.

AirNav Indonesia, a government-owned air traffic control provider, in a notice, announced that seven airports in that country had to be closed following the latest eruption including in Manado.

Meanwhile, Loke said the government has taken note of the request of residents in Kuala Kubu Baharu to further strengthen public transport facilities in the area.

“We can see that there is a need to improve, the first is related to buses and the second is KTM (Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad) because there are users in towns, villages, new townships and residential areas.

“We will also see the service requirement (for) feeder buses connected with KTM. We will pay attention and work on this facility and we will also try to improve commuting facilities from this constituency to the Klang Valley,” he said.