Wisma Nazareth – Banteng Parish, Yogyakarta, Indonesia – Tuesday, 16/11/10 – 13:00 West Indonesia Time. Mt. Merapi which is located in two provinces of Indonesia i.e. Central Java and Yogyakarta has been erupting this last three weeks since 26 October. It is reported that the volume of the volcanic materials thrown out from this single period of eruption is much bigger than some eruptions before all together. This creating scariest threats and biggest panics, dead toll, amount of refugees, and lost, for hundreds of thousands citizens from around the mountain, than ever before.
Now as the eruption seems calm down, another threat comes. This single threat is not only for the people from the mountain slope areas, but also for those who live way far from it.“There is more than one hundred million cubic meters of volcanic material up there. It is dry and cool, ready to slide down whenever rain comes” it was once said by Surono, to whom all stakeholders are lean to, related to the mountain eruptions. He is the Head of Centre for Volcanology and Disaster Mitigation from Indonesia’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources. The threat of cold lava as what it is called popularly is now become another potential disaster which may brings a lot of lost for hundreds of thousands people along so many rivers from Merapi hinterland. The materials consist of sands and stones in various sizes with huge of volumes. It’s already proven that cold lava were able to create massive damages along its tracks, such as for vegetations including rice fields, neighborhoods, bridges, dams, another public facilities, as well as killed people and cattle. Beside the energy coming from its huge mass, the material also is highly sulphuric which may create various diseases. As to respond to this, communities from along the Code River in Yogyakarta made all preparations needed to response the threat which surely will come soon. They all came together last night (15/11) facilitated by Yakkum Emergency Unit and CD Bethesda.
Code (pronounced as Chodhé) is in fact the lower cut of Boyong River which runs through the middle area of Yogyakarta city. As what always happened in most big cities throughout the world, the river banks are gradually more populated as urbanization is massively occurred. As what reported by Vice Major of Yogyakarta, Haryadi Suyuti, on the coordination meeting between executive and legislative of the city on Tuesday, 9 November, there are about 113 thousand people living on the river banks. As many as 13 thousand of them will need to be evacuated when the volcanic materials run down from Mt.Merapi. They come from three districts, Danurejan, Gondokusuman and Karangwaru.Code communities were once being awarded a prestigious Aga Khan Award for their achievement in community struggle in getting the official acknowledgement from Yogyakarta municipality. The discussion last night agrees for several different things such as appointing group in charges, establishing communication standard system, evacuation standard procedures, logistics preparedness, as well as sites to where people should be evacuated at the time when the river elevation getting higher. Robby Reppa from Yakkum Emergency Unit said what Code communities doing and planning is surely a showcase that people is in fact have their own initiative and successfully establish superstructure in responding disaster. “This is really amazing at the time when even the municipality of Yogyakarta has still not any single contingency plan for it” as what Reppa said. Setyo Dharmodjo, an Urban Planning expert from Yakkum Emergency Unit who spoke as an expert consultant on the Code communities initiative for disaster respond confirmed that government still has no a contingency plan for disaster coming to the river. “They indeed built already retaining walls along the sides of the Code River, but a plan for disaster respond I don’t think they have already” said Dharmodjo. Pictures coming along with this article showing Putih River in Srumbung, a district on the western slope of Mt.Merapi after being hit by cold lava flood, the meeting carried out by the Code River communities Monday 15 November at CD Bethesda compound, and Code river which flows on the middle of Yogyakarta city with its neighborhoods on its both banks (article and pictures prepared by Abang Rahino for Yakkum Emergency Unit).