Indonesia : Live on a ring of fire

Posted: November 4, 2010 in Uncategorized, World's news
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Its been a gloomy day for this past weeks for Indonesia as this country was forced to deal with 3 natural disasters, including an earthquake, a tsunami and a volcanic eruption in period less than 24 hours on 26th October 2010.

First,  a 7.5 magnitude earthquake hit 48 miles west of South Pagai, in the Mentawai islands, and destroyed most of the buildings in the coastal village of Betu Monga.  This triggered a 10-feet tsunami waves that swept away at least six villages. Both of this twin disaster have caused 431 deaths as today,  300 people reported missing and 7,000 households have been affected.

A young Tsunami survivor carries her belongings after her village was hit by the earthquake-triggered tsunami at Munte, North Pagai island (photographed by : Achmad Ibrahim/AP)

Survivor walks through the devastated area where once hundreds house stood – (photograph : Reuters)

Meanwhile, a few hours after, on Java Island, 800 miles away from Mentawai, Indonesia’s most volatile volcano Mt. Merapi spewed out clouds of hot ash and killed at least 30 people.  Since then, this “Volcano of the decade”, named by International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of Earth’s Interior due to its high volcanic activity that had scored 80 eruption from 1995, had spewed again for third time in less than a week. The biggest was on 3rd November 2010, causing nearby town flooded by ash and people are being evacuated away more than ever, including those who had settled previously in the refugees camp.  As today, the death toll had risen up to 38 people.

Mount Merapi erupted  (photographed by : Beawiharta / Reuters)

Volunteers helped carry the bodies of those who died after Mount Merapi erupted (photographed by: Beawiharta / Reuters)

Dwiyono, a state vulcanologist, believes that the volcano will continue to spew out gas and rocks for weeks, possibly months, easing the pressure building up inside the crater.  In addition, there is no guarantee yet if the third eruption is the last one.  Right now we can just hope that there won’t be a massive explosion.

The earthquake and volcano that struck Indonesia recently lie on the same volatile fault line known as the Pacific ring of fire, but it was simply a tragic coincidence that both disasters occurred within a few hours of each other, said experts.  Located at the top of the Pacific ring of fire had forced Indonesia to expect more natural disasters to come, as what had happened in the past.  According to USGS (US Geological Survey – visit ), in 2010 itself, there had been multiple significant earthquake in Indonesia, as follow:

Also, in the past there had been multiple volcano eruption, most notably Krakatao in 1883 that had caused global effect and became the inspiration for Edward Munch on his painting “The Scream”,  and Mount Tambora in 1815 that the eruption itself even caused a harvest failure as far as Canada and that year was famous as “A year without summer”.

Since Pacific Ring of Fire is essentially a horsehoe of geologic activity, including volcanoes, earthquakes, deep sea trenches and major fault zones, located on top of it should have made Indonesia became more aware and prepared for years to come.  Although after the deadly tsunami in 2004,  Indonesia already created national disaster and emergency response team, as well as early warning system to notify majority of the population in a case of natural disaster, there is still some improvement required. The early warning system for example, has not reached some remote islands such as Mentawai yet.

In addition, the infrastructure as well as buildings  in Indonesia are mostly not designed for preventing earthquake like what Japan have done. Even, its often built on area prone to natural disasters.  Therefore, in a case of significant earthquake and tsunami, most of the villages and buildings will be severely damaged.  To make the matter worse, often the civilians are not prepared on taking immediate and urgent actions to protect and evacuate themselves from such disasters.


To help ease Mentawai and Mt. Merapi’s disasters victims,  feel free to provide donation through :

Rekening Donasi Musibah Nasional IA-ITB (Donation account for national disaster IA ITB)
Bank Mandiri : No. 070-000-436339-1 a.n Ikatan Alumni ITB qq Dompet Amal
Ikatan Alumni Institut Teknologi Bandung (IA-ITB)

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