Three Malaysian air force planes are going to Indonesia to pick up hundreds of citizens stranded by the eruption of Mount Merapi.

The Royal Malaysian Air Force says the C-130 transport planes left early Sunday.

They will pick up 664 Malaysians, many of them university students who had been in the city of Yogyakarta, 20 miles (30 kilometres) from the volcano.

Mount Merapi unleashed nearly 2 billion cubic feet (50 million cubic meters) of gas, rocks and ash Friday - its most powerful eruption in a century. That prompted several international carriers to cancel flights to the capital, Jakarta, this weekend over concerns about risks posed by the volcanic ash.

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