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Flood-devastated resort closed for six months for renovation MEDAN - The Bukit Lawang resort will be closed to tourists for six months so the local administration can rebuild the area after the devastating flood that killed more than 130 people. North Sumatra Governor Tengku Rizal Nurdin said on Sunday it would take at least six months to restore the resort, including an orangutan reserve, in Bahorok subdistrict, Langkat regency.
"We have talked with Langkat Regent Syamsul Arifin. For about six months tourists will not be willing to return to Bukit Lawang because of the trauma, so we will use this time to renovate Bukit Lawang," he told The Jakarta Post. The local administration last Wednesday banned all tourists from the area as it focuses on rescue efforts and rebuilding the resort.
Langkat administration secretary Masri Zein, also chairman of the local disaster relief agency, said the resort would be reopened to the public after the rebuilding work was completed. He said between 500 and 3,000 tourists arrived at Bukit Lawang every day before it was destroyed by the flood on Nov. 2, which swept away hundreds of houses and cottages. "Almost every day foreign tourists arrived at Bukit Lawang. They generally hailed from Germany, Switzerland, the United States, the Netherlands and Austria," Masri said.
Rizal said he would ask the Langkat administration to ban the establishment of any new resettlement areas near the Bahorok River when the Bukit Lawang resort reopened to the public. "If people still rebuild houses there, it would be defiant and stupid. We don't want another disaster like this to take place," he said. Masri said the death toll from the flash flood on Nov. 2 had risen to 134 by Sunday, with at least 107 people still missing.
Search and rescue teams found only one body on Sunday as bad weather and a lack of equipment hampered their efforts, he said. "We lack the heavy equipment to lift the logs piled up at the site of the disaster. Many bodies are believed to still be buried underneath the logs," he said. Masri said rescuers were combing areas that had not yet been covered by the search operation, including irrigation channels linked to the river. The flood that ripped through Bahorok, some 100 kilometers northwest of Medan, destroyed more than 450 buildings and other structures.
According to data from the Indonesian Forum for Transparency, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Lestari Ecosystem Foundation (YEL), the flood caused about Rp 200 billion (US$23.5 million) in damage. The losses include the destruction of the Rp 20 billion Rindu Alam Hotel and numerous cottages valued at Rp 100 million each, as well as shops valued at about Rp 20 million each, YEL chairman Sofyan Tan said.
Bahorok is on the eastern edge of the Mount Leuser National Park and is home to an orangutan reserve popular with tourists, who also go trekking and white-water rafting in the area. Meanwhile, a number of orangutans from the reserve are starving as they are unable to find food, local villagers were quoted by Antara as saying. The orangutans were released from their cages after the flood to allow them to go out on their own and find food.
The government has blamed illegal logging in the national park for the devastating flood. National Police chief Gen. Da'i Bachtiar has vowed to crack down on illegal logging in protected forests, as families of the flood victims demand justice. Military officers, police officers and government officials are widely known to profit from illegal logging, but no action is ever taken against them.



Posted in Weather @ 10 November 2003 00:02 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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