Merapi Forces Flight Cancellations

"Nearly a dozen airlines have cancelled flights into Indonesia's main international airport after a volcano in central Java unleashed its most powerful eruption in a century.

The move comes amid concerns that Merapi, about 450km to the west of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, may erupt again.

Flights to cities closer to Merapi - including Yogyakarta, Solo and Bandung - have also been affected.

The flight cancellations also came just days before Barack Obama, the US president, was due to visit Indonesia.

""Thirty-six flights to and from Jakarta from 11 airlines have been cancelled today. I think it's for safety reasons due to the volcanic ash from Merapi,"" Sudaryanto, a spokesman for Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, said.

""Safety is good, but actually the ash hasn't reached Jakarta."""