Flights to Sabah and Sarawak likely to resume tonight

KUALA LUMPUR: Flights bound for Sabah and Sarawak are expected to resume this evening.

Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) chief executive officer Datuk Captain Norazman Mahmud when contacted said air operators will resume operations, depending on the weather report.

"The condition is improving and they're starting to resume as early as 7pm today.

"The forecast shows the volcanic ash clouds clearing starting at 7pm from around the Sarawak region and completely clearing the entire Borneo from 10pm tonight," he said.

He added that Air Traffic Control in Borneo has been instructed to extend its operation hours to facilitate recovery.

Earlier today, CAAM has issued safety information on the volcanic ash hazard warning in North Sulawesi, Indonesia, which has impacted flight operations in the Kota Kinabalu Flight Information Region (FIR).

Norazman said the safety information was issued following the eruption of Mount Ruang in Manado, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, which began at 9.45am on Tuesday.

"The eruption has resulted in the formation of ash clouds moving towards the Kota Kinabalu FIR, posing a risk to aircraft safety in that airspace.

"CAAM advises airlines and aircraft operators to continuously monitor meteorological updates, advisories and information related to volcanic ash issued by the authorities."

Mount Ruang, a stratovolcano in North Sulawesi Province, erupted several times on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Authorities had raised the alert level to its highest point after the dome spewed a column of smoke more than 1.6km into the sky and forced hundreds to evacuate.

The alert level for the volcano, which has a peak of 725m above sea level, was then raised on Wednesday evening from three to four, the highest possible level in the four-tiered system.

This prompted scores of flights to and from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) to Sabah and Sarawak today to be cancelled due to the volcanic eruption.

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