SUGIHWARAS, Indonesia — A powerful volcanic eruption on Indonesia’s most populous island blasted ash and debris 12 miles into the air Friday, killing three people and forcing authorities to evacuate more than 100,000 and close seven airports.
The eruption of Mount Kelud on Java island could be heard up to 125 miles away, Indonesia’s disaster agency said.
‘‘The eruption sounded like thousands of bombs exploding,’’ Ratno Pramono, a 35-year-old farmer, said as he checked his property in the village of Sugihwaras, about 3 miles from the crater. ‘‘I thought doomsday was upon us. Women and children were screaming and crying.’’
Ash and grit fell to earth in towns and cities across the region, including Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city after Jakarta, with a population of about 3 million. It also fell farther afield in Yogyakarta, where motorists switched on headlights in daylight. Workers attempted to cover the famed ninth century Buddhist temple complex of Borobudur with plastic sheeting to protect it.
A 60-year-old woman and an 80-year-old man were killed in the village of Pandansari, about 4 miles from the mountain, when the roofs of their homes collapsed under the weight of the ash and volcanic debris, the disaster agency said. A 70-year-old man died after being hit by a collapsed wall while waiting to be evacuated from the same village, where the volcanic ash reached 8 inches deep in some places.
The large international airport in Surabaya and airports in the cities of Malang, Yogyakarta, Solo, Bandung, Semarang, and Cilacap were closed due to reduced visibility and the dangers posed to aircraft engines by ash, a Transport Ministry spokesman said.