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No end in sight to Sidoarjo mudflow SIDOARDJO - Hot mud that has been flowing from a gas well in Sidoarjo, East Java, since May 29 breached a dam Thursday morning, forcing thousands of more people from their homes. Later in the day Vice President Jusuf Kalla led an emergency meeting to discuss the continuing environmental and human disaster.

The dam, which was built to contain the mud and keep it from nearby villages, was breached for a second time at around 9 a.m. This comes days after the local turnpike operator declared the toll road linking East Java towns to the provincial capital Surabaya had to be closed for a third time because of the mud. The operator said the turnpike would be closed indefinitely.

Some 20 train departures were canceled and two main roads were blocked as residents used all manner of vehicles, including tractors and bulldozers, to flee villages in Porong district. An estimated 12,000 people have now been forced from their homes by the mudflow. The company that drilled the well for its gas operations, Lapindo Brantas Inc., continues to publish advertorials in newspapers claiming it is doing all it can to stem the flow of mud.

Schools and homes have been inundated up to their roofs. Residents were sent into a panic Thursday when, as one villager described, the mudflow "all of a sudden rushed toward us". Another resident of Siring village, Bambang, said his mobile phone continued to ring with people asking about the safety of family and neighbors. "I ran as fast as I could to save my wife and child. Everyone was in a panic, as if there was a tsunami. In minutes my home was under mud, as were my neighbors' homes," he told The Jakarta Post.

"We don't want to live here anymore. We ask Lapindo to buy our land and homes," Bambang said. Having earlier ordered the evacuation of more than 8,000 residents, Kalla on Thursday ordered the relocation of all remaining residents in the area, said Sidoarjo Regent Win Hendrarso after the meeting in Jakarta. State Minister for the Environment Rachmat Witoelar earlier said the government planned to build a larger dam to contain the mud. He also expressed caution over a proposal by Lapindo to channel the mud into the sea. "We wouldn't be able to control the flow," he said.

The new dam, to be located near the existing embankment, is planned as a temporary measure while more permanent ways of dealing with the mud spewing from the well are explored, he said. "The mud will eventually be processed so it is less hazardous to people. This is the only plan we currently have," Rachmat said. A report by the State Ministry for the Environment says many of the elements contained in the mud are highly toxic and hazardous.

However, Rachmat said the mud was safe enough to be used in making roof tiles, for example. Some residents have already started making bricks from the mud. An executive and a number of employees of Lapindo have been detained by police on charges of violating environmental laws. The firm is partly owned by the family of Coordinating Minister for the People's Welfare Aburizal Bakrie. To date, the mud has covered some 210 hectares of land in Sidoarjo.


Link to related event Related event:
Sidoarjo mudflow

Related blog entries (category 'Sidoarjo mudflow') Related blog entries (category 'Sidoarjo mudflow'):
07 July 2006 · Thousands displaced by noxious mud in Java
20 June 2006 · Mudflow scatters villagers in East Java


Posted in Sidoarjo mudflow @ 11 August 2006 14:19 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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