Earthquake rocks Aceh, landslides hit NTT
Hotli Simanjuntak and Slamet Susanto, The Jakarta Post, Banda Aceh/Yogyakarta | Archipelago |
Wed, January 23 2013, 10:46 AM
An earthquake measuring magnitude-6.0 rocked parts of Aceh early on Tuesday, killing a 9-year-old girl, damaging dozens of houses and causing panic among residents.
The earthquake, which struck the province at 5:22 a.m. at a depth of 84 kilometers some 15 kilometers to the southwest of Banda Aceh, was strong and long, according to witnesses. Provisional data at the Aceh Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBA) showed that one person died and 15 other were injured following the earthquake.
Although the center of the earthquake was located near Banda Aceh, the worst hit region was Geumpang, Pidie, Aceh, some 150 kilometers to the east. Families were forced to flee their homes for fear of aftershocks.
A girl, named Tuti Rahmi, was killed by falling debris when the disaster occurred.
“We had to stay at a neighbor’s house in case of aftershocks,” said Aminah, Tuti’s mother who is also resident of Geumpang.
The earthquake was reported to have damaged 84 houses, eight mosques, a district administration office, a school building and a community health center.
“We have deployed a team to help the people in Geumpang. Hopefully everything is under control,” BPBA head Jarwansya said on Tuesday.
In Gunungkidul, Yogyakarta, some 30 families of Sumber village, Candirejo subdistrict, Semin district, were forced to relocate because the ground where their houses were located subsided by about 50 centimeters for a length of a kilometer due to the heavy downpours over the region. They feared heavy rain would cause landslide in the limestone hill area.
“When rain falls heavily, the soil beneath us feels like it moves. It is very dangerous,” Candirejo subdistrict secretary Supoyo said.
To minimize the impact of landslides, locals dismantle their houses — which are mostly made of woods — and relocate en masse. Gunungkidul Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) head Budhi Harjo said it supplied the people with logistics for the relocation of their houses.
“We are coordinating with related institutions to decide on a safe location for their new homes,” he said.
As of the third week of January 2013, floods in the province have inundated hundreds of hectares of rice field while strong winds destroyed the roofs of the people’s houses.
In Flores, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), heavy rain and strong winds for the last two weeks have killed a total of five people.
East Manggarai BPBD head Fransiskus Petrus Sinta said the weather had also been blamed for landslides and land subsidence in the two regencies on Flores Island — Manggarai and East Manggarai — causing hundreds of people to flee their homes.
In East Java, it is reported that although 32 out of the province’s 38 regencies/municipalities have been declared as areas prone to floods and landslides, the provincial budget is to be spent on the gubernatorial elections slated for Aug. 29 this year.
Provincial legislative council speaker Imam Sunardie said the budget was so limited that nothing is left for handling disasters. The 2013 budget, he said, had decreased to only Rp 27 billion (US$2.80 million) from Rp 56 billion.
Despite the limited funds, East Java BPBD head Sudharmawan said the administration tried its best to anticipate the impact of disasters by evacuating 26 people whose houses were located in the 400 hectares of landslide-prone cracked areas in Pacitan.
“We are also supervising people living along the banks of the Brantas and Bengawan Solo rivers that are prone to flooding,” he said.
Markus Markur and Indra Harsaputra contributed to this story from Flores and Surabaya.