Tsunami, volcano kill Indonesians

This video is called Pastor Harminto Ongko interviewed by Channel 2 ABC News – Indonesia Mentawai tsunami.

By Peter Symonds in Australia:

Hundreds dead after two Indonesian disasters

28 October 2010

The remote Mentawai islands off the west coast of Sumatra were devastated on Monday night after a 7.7 magnitude undersea earthquake triggered a tsunami that swept across coastal areas. Poor weather has hampered efforts to assess the extent of the damage and to get relief supplies to the islands.

West Sumatra’s disaster management agency coordinator, Ade Edward, reported yesterday that at least 311 people were dead and another 410 were missing. However, the final toll could be much higher as rescue workers are yet to reach some of the worst-affected areas. The tsunami wave was at least 3 metres high and swept up to 600 metres inland.

The National Disaster Management Agency said most deaths had occurred in the Pagai Utara and Pagai Selatan districts. Hundreds of wooden and bamboo homes had been washed away in more than 20 villages. More than 20,000 people have been displaced and are sheltering in makeshift emergency camps or staying with friends and relatives. …

None of the victims received any warning of the impending danger. Six years after a tsunami devastated much of northern Sumatra, as well as large areas of Thailand, Sri Lanka and India, and killed an estimated 225,000 people, a tsunami early warning system is still incomplete.

Ferdinand Salamanang, who lives on North Pagai Island, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation: “There wasn’t any siren to warn people in Sikakap. Yes there was an earthquake and tsunami detection system in our port, but it is broken. We did not hear any warning this time.”

Ridwan Jamaluddin, from the Indonesian Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology, told the media: “We don’t say they [two early warning buoys] are broken down, but they were vandalised and the equipment is very expensive. It cost us five billion rupiah [$US560,000] each.”

Responsibility for the lack of a functioning tsunami warning system rests not just with the Indonesian government but with the major powers that pledged to establish a region-wide system in the aftermath of the 2004 tragedy. UN disaster specialist Tiziana Bonapace told the BBC that the warning system was meant to be finished in 2010 but was still a work in progress. “Earthquake and sea-level monitoring systems are in place, but what has proven more difficult is how to get warnings out to remote areas in time,” she said.

Ridwan Jamaluddin dismissed the lack of warning, claiming that even if the buoys had been working the alert might not have given people enough time to escape. “Pagai Island is very close to the epicentre, so the waves reached Pagai Island in just 5 or 10 minutes,” he said. Whether these claims are true or not, the official gave no indication as to when the buoys were going to be fixed and the warning system restored. …

Even as relief workers struggle to cope with the situation in the Mentawai Islands, another disaster is unfolding in central Java following the eruption of Mount Merapi on Tuesday. At least 29 people are dead and 38 injured. About 42,000 people had been evacuated following earlier warnings, but a number of people, concerned about their crops, homes and possessions, returned to the area or refused to leave.

Scientists are concerned about further eruptions. The head of the Indonesia’s centre of vulcanology, Surono, told the Guardian: “A lot of energy is pent up back there. There’s no telling what’s next.” Large areas around the volcano are caked in ash. Mount Merapi, to the north of the city of Yogyakarta, is one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes, but the surrounding area is densely populated.

Rescuers searching islands ravaged by a tsunami off western Indonesia raised the death toll to 343 today as more bodies were found: here.

Indonesia tsunami deaths top 400: here.

There is mounting criticism of the government as relief workers struggle to cope with two disasters involving tens of thousands of people—the October 25 tsunami in the Mentawai islands and the eruption of Mount Merapi in central Java: here.

Searing gas poured down Java’s Mount Merapi volcano today, torching houses and trees and incinerating villagers as they fled: here.

1 thought on “Tsunami, volcano kill Indonesians

  1. Volcano death toll nears 200

    INDONESIA: The death toll from the eruption of the Mount Merapi volcano rose to 191 today.

    It erupted two weeks ago and has been sending hot ash and gases into the air ever since.

    Flights were suspended today because of the danger to air traffic.

    US President Barack Obama ended a state visit earlier than planned in order to avoid the disruption.

    He arrived in South Korea yesterday for a G20 summit.



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