MAGUWOHARJO, Indonesia — A powerful overnight eruption of Mount Merapi created chaos for Indonesia’s disaster response effort on Friday after an explosion of hot gases and debris killed scores of people and sent more than 160,000 villagers fleeing to underprepared evacuation camps.
Heavy white ash covered the runways at the airport in nearby Yogyakarta, forcing it to close Friday, The Associated Press reported. It was not clear when it would reopen.
The latest, unexpected eruption prompted authorities to extend the evacuation radius around Mount Merapi to 20 kilometers, or 12.5 miles, from 15 kilometers. An earlier eruption the day before had caused it to be extended from an initial 10 kilometers.
Despite chaos as authorities abandoned previous havens, Mr. Nugroho said it was the right approach to keep evacuees so close to the erupting volcano.
With tens of thousands evacuating camps, and tens of thousands more abandoning villages, police, troops and aid workers struggled to deal with crowds at new collection points further away from the smoldering mountain.