News / Asia

Indonesia Reviews Disaster Emergency Efforts

Tsunami survivors weep on ravaged Pagai island, in Mentawai Islands, Indonesia, 28 Oct. 2010.
Tsunami survivors weep on ravaged Pagai island, in Mentawai Islands, Indonesia, 28 Oct. 2010.

As Indonesia continues counting its dead from back-to-back natural disasters this week, officials are debating the effectiveness of the country's tsunami warning system.  The combination of a tsunami and a near-simultaneous volcanic eruption has left at least 343 people dead, a number that is expected to climb.


Thursday, rescue officials got a clearer picture of the damage a tsunami inflicted on Indonesia's remote Mentawai Islands, which swept away hundreds of homes and lives.

Failed system


A meteorology agency official says an early warning system implemented after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami failed.

The system was created to warn people to move to higher ground in the threat of a giant wave. But the official says it had been plagued by problems caused in part by inexperienced operators.

The 10-foot waves that wiped out entire villages, hit the Mentawais only minutes after the 7.7-magnitude earthquake that triggered it. But the head of the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency, Wandono, says the local government still had time to sound an alarm.

He says the agency released information about the earthquake and possible tsunami almost immediately. If the local government had used that information, it could have reduced the number of victims.

Supplies needed

After being delayed by bad weather, food, tents and clothing are arriving on the islands. Officials say they now expect a steady stream of supplies.

Groups of surfers who were some of the first to reach the scene say clothing is badly needed, since many people were left with nothing but what they were wearing. Arial photos show uprooted trees and concrete foundations that had been cleared of their wooden houses.

With rescue workers starting to arrive, search parties set out through the island's jungles to look for the hundreds of people still missing.



Removing ash


About 1,300 kilometers to the east, rescue workers are assisting nearly 40,000 evacuees around Mount Merapi, a volcano in Central Java that began spewing searing ash and debris Monday evening.

Authorities continue to search the ash-covered slopes for survivors, and volunteers are removing dead livestock to prevent the spread of disease.

Many of the victims suffered from severe burns caused by hot clouds of gas that swept down the mountain.

Ignored warnings

Among the victims was a respected elder who many residents considered the mountain's spiritual guardian, charged with appeasing fickle spirits.

Widi Sutikno, head of emergency response in the district of Sleman, says local beliefs were the reason many of those who live on the volcano ignored earlier evacuation warnings.

He says officials urged people to evacuate, but residents believed their own local wisdom would tell them when it was the right time to leave. Sutikno says because of rain and bad weather, they could not see the hot gas clouds.

Another explosion?

Tuesday's blast eased pressure building up beneath a lava dome. Since then the volcano has been largely quiet, but scientists have not ruled out the possibility of an even larger explosion.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono headed to Sumatra after cutting short a visit to Vietnam to help manage the government's response to both disasters.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid