Portrait of 2010 Mount Sinabung Volcanic Eruption’s Refugees

On August 29, 2010 around 00.15 am at local time, Mount Sinabung which located at Karo Regency experienced a minor eruption after several days of rumbling as many people were sleeping. Ash spewed into the atmosphere up to 1.5 kilometres and lava was seen overflowing the crater. The volcano had been inactive for four centuries with the most recent eruption occurring in 1600. In the time of panic, about 12,000 villagers who lived on the villages around Mount Sinabung were evacuated, mostly to Kabanjahe, the capital city of Karo Regency. Two days after on August 31, 6,000 villagers who had been evacuated returned to their homes because of the mount minor vulcanic activities.

Mount Sinabung (Bahasa : Gunung Sinabung) is a Pleistocene-to-Holocene stratovolcano of andesite and dacite in the Karo plateau of Karo Regency, North Sumatra, Indonesia, 25 miles from Lake Toba supervolcano. Many old lava flows are on its flanks and the last known eruption, before recent times, occurred in the year 1600. Solfataric activities (cracks where steam, gas, and lava are emitted) were last observed at the summit in 1912, but no other documented events had taken place until an eruption in the early hours of August 29, 2010.

Before the mount finally erupted in first time, the Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center (PVMBG) was assigned Mount Sinabung in category “B” because it was not active for more than 400 years. Which means it is not necessary for it to be monitored intensively.

On Friday 3 September, two more eruptions were noted. The first happened at 04:45 am in the early morning, forcing more villagers to leave their houses again – where some of them had just returned the day before. This eruption was the most intense so far, with ash spewed up into the atmosphere about 3.0 kilometres high. Some hours before the eruption a warning had been issued through the volcanology agency, and most villagers were prepared to leave quickly. A second eruption occurred the same evening, around 18:00 pm. The eruption came with earth quakes which could be noticed in a 25.0 kilometres distance around the volcano.

After the second eruption almost all villagers were evacuated to some shelter on Kabanjahe and other cities nearby and safer from the eruption with the helped of Indonesian military and police reinforcement. The refugees that were accommodated in several Jambur (Jambur is a place that Karonese, the original tribe that lived in Karo Highland, ussually used to held a religious or marriage ceremony and procession) had to slept on thin mats and pillowed by their luggage for a while during emergency time. During the night they had to fight againts the cold weather. Many old person and children that i had seen on the shelter also had to slept among the crowds with many other refugees.

Fortunately, the emergency response conduction was greatly assisted as many Jambur in Karo Highland had already equipped by kitchen and sanitation systems. By some information that i had got, on the first night of displacement after the first eruption, the refugees slept in roofed building – as Jambur itself was built with roof on it, although with limited toilet but enough water. On the 2nd day, the local government and military quickly build 40 units of emergency toilet on the shelter. With the concentration of refugees placement in some particular places, food and health management becomes easier. Medical units were standby 24 hours.

The ratio of volunteers : refugees that had set as 1 : 100, the implementation of systems and discussion groups and mutual cooperation among the refugees, had made the emergencies time were passed easier and well organized.


Copyright © 2010 Novri Wahyu Perdana. All rights reserved.
All images were taken by using Canon EOS 50D and Canon EF-S 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 IS on September 4, 2010.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s