Mount Agung: Rescuers rush to help disabled evacuees as fears of volcano eruption grow

Report
from Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Published on 30 Sep 2017 View Original

By Indonesia correspondent Adam Harvey

In a back room of the village chief's office in the small community of Abang, close to Mount Agung, two young children lie on the floor, cradled and stroked by their mother and aunt.

The children are both severely disabled. They are among hundreds of disabled children among the 145,000 evacuated from around Bali's Mt Agung.

Ni Ketut Nonik is 12 and I Gede Jati Suardana is 14, although both are the size of children half their age.

Ketut's thin arms are bent at an awkward angle in front of her, and her tongue pushes uncontrollably out of her mouth. They're both lying on mats on the floor.

These young evacuees are helpless. They can barely move, let alone walk, and in an emergency they need to be picked up. Running away from a volcanic eruption would be impossibly slow, their mother I Luh Teni says.

After an evacuation order was issued for 12 kilometres around Mt Agung the family hurried to get out. Teni has four other children.

"I'm afraid," Teni says.

Workers from a local charity Puspadi came to help, the group's Ketut Darmo says.

"Our director came to their house with pick-up truck," Ketut Darmo from Puspadi says.

"He took the kids, Ketut and Gede, he took them here, they were given this place at the back because they need a special place."

These children can't cope in a crowded evacuation centre, with the chaos and noise of hundreds of people sharing tiny spaces. They've got no idea what's happening and they're easily distressed.

They're unsettled when we come into the room, and calm after a few minutes of quiet talk.

Puspadi staff and volunteers have been doing this work all week, collecting hundreds of children from inside the evacuation zone and taking them out of danger.

Ketut Darmo knows how important this work is. Like many staff at Puspadi he also has a disability — he wears a prosthetic leg.

"I also had to pay attention to my family too, because my wife is disabled, she's lost her right leg. We were running against time, because we were panicked."

A week into this crisis, Puspadi thinks it has extracted all the children out of the most dangerous areas.

It might be just in time — Indonesia's centre for volcanology and geological hazard mitigation says the probability of an eruption remains high.

The centre says if the volcano blows, a smaller initial eruption may be followed by a bigger secondary eruption.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation:

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