Indonesia’s Mount Sinabung Erupts & Displaces Tens of Thosands, Causing Millions of Dollars in Damage.

January 26, 2014 Indonesian Volcano Drives Refugee Crisis: Months of eruptions from a mountain in Sumatra displace tens of thousands and cause millions of dollars in damage: Pictured above, villagers ran on ash as The Mount Sinabung Volcano erupted in Indonesia‘s North Sumatra province Tuesday.

The world’s most volcanic nation is enduring one of its longest series of eruptions in more than 30 years, forcing Indonesian authorities to grapple with a growing refugee crisis on Sumatra Island.

Over the past three months, daily eruptions from Mount Sinabung, a massif in Indonesia’s far west, have displaced nearly 30,000 residents and caused millions of dollars in damage.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono flew to the region on Thursday, meeting with evacuees and disaster-mitigation officials.

A handful of villages are being permanently relocated and the evacuation zone stretches between 3.1 and 4.3 miles down the mountain. Officials have a contingency plan to extend it to around 6 miles if activity worsens, which would raise the number of evacuees to almost 60,000 people. There is no telling when the eruptions will end.

That is challenging the ability of a remote district to handle a crisis, even with the support of the central government’s well-oiled disaster-response mechanisms. Since the eruptions began, ash has caused more than $60 million in damage to cash crops including coffee, chilies, rice, corn and cabbage, according to the district’s agricultural agency.

Jhonson Tarigan, a district spokesman, said the local government depends heavily on aid donations from companies, government institutions and individuals.

“Supplies are sufficient, but we’re worried they may not be enough as the numbers of displaced people keeps rising,” he said.

Government volcanologists at a new monitoring post say they are prepared to increase the size of the evacuation zone, but are wary of speaking of worst-case scenarios.

“The danger is if the lava dome continues to grow, potentially adding energy to the pyroclastic flows” and sending them further, said Kristianto, a government volcanologist who, like many Indonesians, goes by one name. Pyroclastic flows are superheated mixes of ash and gases that can barrel down the mountain at high speeds, torching everything in their path.

In 2010, during eruptions of Mount Merapi, Indonesia’s most active volcano, much stronger pyroclastic flows required a clear zone of 12 miles around the peak, forcing the evacuation of more than 300,000 people.

The displaced around Sinabung are mainly small landholders who farm the fertile volcanic soils below the roughly 8,200-foot peak. Many have sold their livestock and are relying on government assistance.

The evacuees are housed and fed in mosques, churches and wedding halls in various degrees of comfort. In the largest mosque in Kabanjahe, the district seat, one group of more than 600 villagers has slept on floor mats since early November. They bathe every few days.

With nearly 130 active peaks, Indonesia sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, a collection of tectonic fault lines that makes seismic activity a daily occurrence.

No one precisely knows Sinabung’s capabilities. Scientists have been studying the mountain in earnest only since 2010, when it briefly erupted for the first time in centuries. That gave volcanologists time to set up seismic-monitoring tools and to study 2,000 years of volcanic deposits, all of which is informing current evacuation maps.

Since November, the mountain has been spewing gray ash as much as four miles into the sky. The spread of fine dust has coated the landscape and ash has traveled 35 miles to Medan, home to more than two million people.

Increasingly, the eruptions are accompanied by the more dangerous pyroclastic flows, the longest of which have extended about three miles down the mountain.

Locals gather nightly at a field in Kabanjahe, about seven miles away, to watch occasional bursts of lava, which has thus far stayed largely at the upper reaches of the mountain.

For all the devastation and displacement, the crisis is a telling picture of just how far Indonesia’s disaster-relief operations have come in recent years, especially since the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, when some 160,000 people perished in Indonesia alone. The event was instrumental in establishing a national disaster-mitigation agency and refining the relationship between local and national response bodies.

“Before that, disaster management here was just emergency response,” said Said Faisal, executive director of AHA Centre, a coordinating body for disaster management among Southeast Asian countries. “Today, you can get a Ph.D. in disaster management.”

Part of the challenge in Indonesia, a sprawling country of 18,000 islands and more than 240 million people, is that disasters can strike in unison. In the past week, heavy rains have forced more than 40,000 people from their homes in the capital, Jakarta, and 15,000 more in the eastern island of Sulawesi.

For evacuees, life is a mix of boredom and concern.

“It’s all ruined,” said Rina Sitepo, describing the finger-deep ash covering her coffee, cabbage and chili crops. Sitting with her sisters-in-law on the floor of the mosque serving as an evacuation center, she rolled a lightly intoxicating mix of betel nut and tobacco. Her intake has risen exponentially in the past three months.

“It helps us forget for a while,” she said. (Credits – Reuters, Made Sentana and The Wall Street Journal).

The Master of Disaster

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About wfoster2011

Disaster researcher and current financial and economic news and events: Accidents, economics, financial, news, nature, volcanoes, floods, earthquakes, fires; airplane, ship & train wrecks; tornadoes, mine cave-ins, hurricanes, pestilence, blizzards, storms, tzuami's, explosions, pollution, famine; heat & cold waves; nuclear accidents, drought, stampedes and general. Futures trader using high volume and open interest futures markets. Also, a financial, weather and mundane astrologer with over 30 years of experience. Three University degrees from California State University Northridge: BS - Accounting MS - Busines Administration BA - Psychology Served in the U. S. Army as an Armored Platoon Leader in the 5th Battalion, 68th Armored Regiment, 8th Infantry Division (Retired). Have published three books and 36 articles available for sale through my blog: Commodology - Secret of Soyobeans (Financial Astrology) Timing is the Key (Financial Astrology) Scum City, a fiction novel (no longer available, under contract to major publisher) Currently resident of Las Vegas, NV, USA
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6 Responses to Indonesia’s Mount Sinabung Erupts & Displaces Tens of Thosands, Causing Millions of Dollars in Damage.

  1. Cris says:

    Thanks for keeping us informed. Otherwise, I’d never be able to keep up with all this. It seems like this kind of stuff never ceases, just keeps on escalating. It seems to me that something major’s going to be going down in the not too distant future that none of is going to like.

    • wfoster2011 says:

      Yes indeed – I think “it” is going to occur April 24, 2014 and continue out to August/September, 2017 when the U.S. is hammered by natural disasters. The West coast of the U.S., the New Madrid area of Missouri and South Carolina are my prime suspects. This is going to be very “big.” What “it” is I do not know for sure, however, we shall not soon forget it. The key words involved here are heat and cold; aggression, action; structures crumbling; Sudden and unexpected events; women and those in power.
      William G. Foster
      aka – The Master of Disaster

      • Cris says:

        Personally, I think there is going to be some serious continental drift sometime soon where the West will move East and the East will move West, shrinking the size of the Atlantic Ocean. I don’t think the two sides will meet, but I think they will be much closer than they are now. Also, I think it will be sudden and fast, not an inch this year and another inch next year, perhaps even hours. If this happens, the seas will indeed heave themselves beyond their bounds, as the Bible says, I believe. See Rev. 6:12-14. I think that time is nearly upon us.

        • wfoster2011 says:

          Revelation 6:12-14
          New American Standard Bible (NASB)
          The Sixth Seal—Terror
          12 I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; 13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. 14 The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
          I have always thought the first part referred to a massive volcanic eruptions, which blocks out the Sun and Moon. The stars falling from the sky could refer to a meteorite falling to Earth, similar to the one that hit Russia; only much larger. “Every mountain and Island moving out of their places” means a massive shift in the tectonic plates of the Earth.
          What ever it is, it is going to be truly biblical in scale and we will not recognize what follows after these monumental events.
          William G. Foster
          aka: The Master of Disaster

          • Cris says:

            The stars falling from the sky could represent the earth hurtling through space after being 1) knocked from its orbit, or 2) God taking it back to where he created it, for I do not believe it was created where it now spins.

            The moon being as blood could easily be caused by earthquakes, a lot of them.

            The sun being black as sackcloth could be caused by 1) the earth being knocked from its orbit and away from the sun, or 2) God taking it back to where he created it,

            I think this latter case will happen, but perhaps not at this time, as that would cause there to be no light at all. I think this will happen after Jesus returns, for he will provide the light to the earth himself. So, more than likely, in my little world, the earth will be knocked out of its orbit. But, of course, it’s all speculation, as no one really knows but the man who wrote Revelation and the three members of the Godhood.

            Still, it’s fun to project, even thought whatever what will be happening will be anything but fun, causing people to go hide in their caves (government bunkers?).

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