Thursday, October 28, 2010
Indonesia struggles to reach survivors after huge waves batter remote island chain, killing at least 300 people.
Indonesian rescue workers are struggling to reach hundreds of people believed to be missing after a tsunami smashed into a remote island chain in the west of the country, killing at least 300 people.
The waves washed away at least 10 villages and flattened houses, as it surged as far as 600 metres inland on South Pagai island, officials said.
"We need to find the missing people as soon as possible," Harmensyah, the West Sumatra disaster management head, said.
"Some of them might have run away to the mountains, but many would have been swept away."
Al Jazeera's Wayne Hay, reporting from Padang on his way to the Mentawai Islands, said the communications disruption had also made it difficult to get an accurate gauge of what has happened.
"[Officials] are saying some supplies have been able to reach the island through boats, which are really the only way of getting there at this stage," he said.
"But the message coming back to the West Sumatra government is that a lot more is needed."
He also said that it is proving difficult to obtain an accurate death toll from the tsunami, as local media outlets are reporting at least 300 dead.
"We are working closely with the Indonesian government and our contacts in the surf industry to find out the scope and what needs to be delivered.
"Our worries are not only with the deaths and missing, but also the evacuation site, health and hygiene, and nutrition.
"If people are suffering from malaria or are malnourished, particularly the very young or very old, and they are moved away from their homes, we are worried about disease outbreaks and further deaths in the weeks to come."
Eight Australian survivors, and American and a New Zealander recounted their harrowing encounter with the tsunami after setting foot in Padang on Wednesday.
The Asian tsunami in December 2004 - triggered by a 9.3-magnitude quake off northwest Sumatra - killed at least 168,000 people in Indonesia alone.
Indonesia's tsunami warning system failed because it was broken, say officials as death toll climbs to 340
The early warning system installed after the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia failed to alert islanders to the latest deadly wave because it had fallen into disrepair, officials revealed.
The death toll from the double natural disaster has risen to more than 340 and hundreds more are still missing in the wake of a 10ft tsunami and volcano eruption.
A 7.7 magnitude earthquake struck the ocean floor off western Sumatra on Monday, triggering a tsunami that smashed ashore and demolished entire villages.
Destruction: This aerial photograph shows the remains of a village that was swept away by the tsunami in North Pagai island, one of the Mentawai islands
Human cost: Villagers stand near the bodies of tsunami victims in Pasapuat, Silabu Island, West Sumatra
Relief: A member of a rescue team looks out at North Pagai island as his ship delivers aid to survivors
The fault line on the Sumatran coast is the same one that caused the earthquake and tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries around the Indian Ocean on Boxing Day 2004.
After that tragedy, many countries set up early warning systems in their waters in the hope of giving people enough time to flee to higher ground before any future tsunamis made landfall.
But Indonesia's version, completed with German aid, has since fallen into such disrepair that it effectively stopped working about a month ago, according to the head of the Meteorology and Geophysic Agency.
Swamped: A lot of land is still underwater after the tsunami
Escape: Australian tsunami survivors talk to a journalist about their experiences in the stricken surf resort
Aid ship: A rescue team arrives at North Pagai island with relief assistance for victims of the tsunami
The system, which uses buoys to electronically detect sudden changes in water level worked when it was completed in 2008 but tests last year revealed operating problems, said the agency's chief, who uses the single name Fauzi.
By last month, he added, the entire system was broken because of inexperienced operators.
'We do not have the expertise to monitor the buoys to function as intended,' he said.
As a result, not a single siren sounded after Monday's earthquake.
It was unclear if the sirens could have made a difference because the islands worst affected were so close to the epicenter that the tsunami would have reached them within minutes.
The group that set up the system, the Germann-Indonesian agency Tsunami Early Warning System (GITEWS), could not be reached for comment, but Fauzi's comments highlight the difficulty faced by poor countries such as Indonesia in disaster prevention and response.
Meanwhile, rescue teams forced to stay away from the disaster-struck Mentawi islands because of stormy seas and bad weather have started arriving at the scene.
Some rescuers wore face masks as they endured the grim task of wrapping swollen corpses that litter roads and beaches in black body bags.
Huge swaths of land were underwater and houses lay crumpled with tires and slabs of concrete piled up on the surrounding sand.
At least 311 people died as the tsunami washed away hundreds of wooden and bamboo homes in 20 villages, displacing more than 20,000 people, said Ade Edward, a government disaster official.
The first aid planes - loaded with tents, medicine, food and clothes - landed yesterday but charities are getting 'grim news' on the ground.
Still a threat: Smoke rises from Mount Merapi as experts warn a second eruption of the notoriously volatile volcano is possible
Scorched earth: A man walks across volcanic ash-covered land at Kali Adem village in Sleman, in Central Java
Mass burial: An excavator pours soil over the coffins of the victims of the Mount Merapi eruption in Sidorejo, Sleman
Andrew Judge, head of SurfAid International - a group founded by surfers who have been helping deliver aid to the popular surfing destination - said he is hearing of 'more death, large numbers of deaths in some villages.
About 800 miles to the east in central Java, the Mount Merapi volcano was quiet but is still threatening another eruption.
On Tuesday, less than 24 hours after the earthquake and tsunami, searing ash clouds spewing from Merapi killed at least 33 people and injured 17. A mass burial is planned later today.
More than 11,000 people live on Merapi's fertile slopes but around 36,000 people have been evacuated from the surrounding areas, according to the Indonesian Red Cross.
Rescue crews and relief workers are losing hope of finding survivors after a tsunami swept through a remote string of islands in Indonesia, killing at least 370 people and leaving hundreds missing.
The three-metre wave roared through remote islands off Sumatra following a powerful earthquake on Monday, washing away homes and displacing thousands of people from more than 20 villages.
Joni Sageru, a 30-year-old fisherman, recalled seeing the ocean first recede and then return like "a big wall running toward our village."
"Suddenly trees, houses and all things in the village were sucked into the sea and nothing was left."
The West Sumatra provincial disaster management agency raised the official death toll to 370 Thursday, up from 343 earlier in the day. About 340 people are still missing.
Bad weather and rough seas slowed initial relief efforts, as rescue crews struggled to reach remote locations, including the Mentawai Islands, a popular surf destination.
"This is a very remote area, so some areas are just getting reached," Jakarta-based freelance journalist Aubrey Belford told CBC News.
The government has deployed several cargo planes and helicopters to help deliver supplies and emergency workers, but officials are still trying to reach some of the more remote areas, Belford said.
Harmensyah, head of the West Sumatra provincial disaster management centre, said the rescue crews that had arrived in affected communities were finding bodies on the roads and beaches in devastated communities.
Harmensyah said the teams were losing hope of finding survivors.
"They believe many, many of the bodies were swept to sea," he told The Associated Press.
On Thursday, a 10-year-old boy found an 18-month-old alive in a clump of trees — though both the toddler's parents are believed to be dead.
SurfAid International, a relief agency that works in the area, sent an assessment team to survey the damage in villages in North Pagai and South Pagai.
"Villages in the area have either been completely destroyed or suffered significant damage," SurfAid said in a statement.
Some islanders slung up tarps to sleep under in areas where the wave swept houses into the jungle. Many refused to return to their homes for fear another tsunami might hit.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is scheduled to visit affected communities Thursday, as questions emerge about problems with the warning system put in place after the 2004 Asian tsunami.
Officials told the BBC the multimillion-dollar warning system wasn't working properly because two buoys near the Mentawai Islands had been damaged by vandals.
However, Joern Lauterjung, head of the German-Indonesia Tsunami Early Warning Project for the Potsdam-based GeoForschungs Zentrum, said a warning did go out five minutes after the quake, but the tsunami hit so fast no one was warned in time.
"The early warning system worked very well — it can be verified," he said, adding that only one sensor of 300 had not been working, and it had no effect on the system's operation.
About 1,300 kilometres to the east in central Java, the Mount Merapi volcano was mostly quiet but still a threat after Tuesday's eruption that sent searing ash clouds into the air, killing at least 33 people and injuring 17, said Agustinus, a doctor at the local health department who, like many Indonesians, goes by one name.
Among the dead was a revered elder who had refused to leave his ceremonial post as caretaker of the mountain's spirits.
The two disasters were not related, but they both fell along Indonesia's portion of the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, a series of fault lines that are prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity stretching from the Western Hemisphere through Japan and Southeast Asia.
Brenti’s home in Muntei Baru-Waru in Batumonga village on North Pagai Island — one of Mentawai’s three main islands, was devastated by an earthquake-triggered tsunami on Monday night.
More than 300 people were killed by the tsunami and about 100 more missing, according to authorities. They said earlier that 113 had died.
Brenti said the first wave was eight meters high and engulfed half of the hamlet. But the second wave struck like a giant wall and was higher than a coconut tree. It struck harder and deeper, eventually reaching the slopes of a hill more than 800 meters inland.
“Only 40 people survived. All 73 houses were gone. The night after the disaster, we — the injured and babies — slept under the rain on a hill in the back of our hamlet,” the 40-year-old said, as quoted by Josh Kamatis, a disaster post coordinator for North and South Pagai Islands in Sikakap, who shared Brenti’s story with The Jakarta Post.
“Those who survived were those who ran to higher ground after the first wave struck, while the dead were mostly those who could not escape the second wave.”
Brenti’s wife and two children were swept away in the tsunami.
When Brenti left his ruined hamlet, dozens of bodies lay scattered on the ground and over 100 people were still missing.
He said that most residents had not felt the 7.2-magnitude quake as they were inside their homes due to rain. Residents were shocked after hearing a thundering sound that resembled loud wave breaks about 15 minutes after the earthquake.
Soon afterwards, the tsunami swept the hamlet.
“The hamlet is just a name now. No more buildings. On Wednesday, 80 dead victims were found and 102 still missing. There were only 40 survivors,” said Kamatis, adding the dead had been buried the same day.
Two days after the disaster struck, the death toll continues to rise, with the disaster post listing 282 dead and 411 missing.
The tsunami badly damaged 25,426 houses, flattened six hamlets and forced 4,500 residents to evacuate to makeshift shelters.
Rescue workers and relief supplies intended for more than a dozen villages on the islands arrived by plane and helicopter on Wednesday.
West Sumatra Disaster Mitigation Agency Operational Control Center head Ade Edward defended the agency’s decision to lift a tsunami warning that had been issued immediately after the temblor struck.
He said his office had not established a tsunami early warning system for Mentawai Islands, adding that even the most advanced equipment could not have processed warning signs fast enough to avoid disaster in the regency after the earthquake.
“The [epicenter] was very close and the tsunami arrived in just 15 minutes, so it was unnecessary,” Ade told the Post on Wednesday.
“The most sophisticated system currently available needs five minutes to process information from an earthquake before issuing a tsunami warning — and a issuing a command to respond to the field would take more than 15 minutes. It would have been too late for Mentawai.”
An early warning system would have been effective for the provincial capital, Padang, and for other areas along West Sumatra’s western coast that were more than 200 kilometers from the epicenter, he said.
When the earthquake hit on Oct. 25, Ade said his office had processed information from weather stations but did not issue an evacuation order since the sea level had not decreased. “In 15 minutes, we decided that a tsunami would not hit the west coast of Sumatra and informed the public by radio that there was no need to evacuate,” he said.
Mentawai Islands regency lawmaker Jan Winnen Sipayung said that some victims might have been asleep when the earthquake struck.
“Nearly all of the villages that were devastated by the tsunami were unconnected to the power network, so most residents went to sleep early. Some of the people likely failed to flee to safety after the quake,” he said Wednesday.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Welcome to the lovely tropical islands in Kalimantan (or also known as Borneo) area, Derawan Island. An island with sea-colored blue and green shades are stunning, soft sand, rows of coconut palms on the coast, with a small forest in the middle of the island that’s become the habitat of various species of plants, animals and natural beauty of the enchanting underwater. No wonder if Derawan Island become top three world-class dive destinations and makes the Derawan as a dream island for divers.
Around Derawan Island, at least 28 diving spots identified. To explore all of spots you need about 10 days with one dive at each spot. To move from one spot to another, you can use the ship. You also can explore the island on foot.
Well, many activities you can do on Derawan Island, especially for marine tourist activities such as snorkeling, fishing, diving, swimming and observe the green turtle.
How to get Derawan Island
It’s easy to reach this beautiful island. You can simply fly about 3 hours to Balikpapan by plane from Jakarta, Surabaya, Yogyakarta or Denpasar. From Balikpapan, you still have to fly to Cape Redeb baout one hour by plane KAL Star, Deraya or DAS. In addition, Cape Redeb can also be reached by sea, with boarded the ship from Samarinda or Tarakan to Tanjung Redeb or followed by a motorboat hire.