News Focus – Living in the ring of fire needs continuing preparations

Bogor, W Java (ANTARA News) - A string of earthquakes has continuously been shaking different parts of Indonesia over these past three months. No one in the country knows when these natural disasters stop threatening the archipelago.

Instead of subsiding, the earthquakes rocked the city of Manado, Bitung, and North Minahasa in North Sulawesi Province on Saturday afternoon, and Lebak area of Banten Province, which is just around 138 km away from Jakarta, on early Sunday.

There were no reports of casualties and damages following the two quakes. The local residents, who felt the tremors, were asked by the Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) authorities to maintain alertness but to remain calm.

In August and September, a series of deadly earthquakes hit the Indonesian island of Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara Province as well as the city of Palu and districts of Donggala and Sigi, living several thousands of people dead.

Despite the central and local governments serious endeavors to assist those affected in Lombok Island, it takes time to help them recover from the physical and psychological impact of the catastrophe.

The relatively similar condition is also felt by those surviving the 7.4-magnitude earthquaka and tsunami devastating certain areas of Palu, the capital city of Central Sulawesi Province, as well as the districts of Donggala and Sigi, on September 28.

Thanks to the ongoing participation of security apparatuses and many other parties in the disaster mitigation and restoration processes, the living condition of residents in Central Sulawesi Province, has gradually got improved.

According to Spokesman of 132/Tadulako Military Resort Command Colonel Agus Sasmita, almost all of 14 hospitals around the disaster zones of Palu, Donggala and Sigi had resumed operations.

As revealed in his explanation to Antara recently, Agus Sasmita said the government also provided the victims with medical services on board of a navy ship, KRL dr.Suharso, and a field hospital in Balaroa area.

Tens of local students could have also returned to school following the reopening of two senior high schools and a junior high school. In Palu alone, there are 91 senior high schools, 128 junior high schools, ad 495 elementary schools.

Regarding the local peoples economic activities, at least three markets in Palu had resumed operations. In the city, there are eight markets, while the districts of Donggala and Sigi have 16 and one units respectively.

Apart from the good news on improving living condition in the disaster zones of Central Sulawesi Province, the 6.3-magnitude earthquake that rocked the East Java and Bali regions on early Thursday (October 11) seems to be an alarming bell.

The 6.3-magnitude earthquake did not merely cause three people to get killed and several houses in East Java to get damaged, but its tremors could also be felt by many of those staying in the resort island of Bali for attending the IMF-World Bank meetings.

One of the top government officials who felt the tremors was Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi.

She said she has her own way of managing such a worrying situation as the early Thursday earthquake. "As a diplomat (before becoming a foreign minister), I have been trained in staying at conflict-stricken and disaster-prone areas."

Her main point is that she would not get panicked in facing such a situation," Retno told journalists on the sidelines of the Indonesia-Singapore Annual Leaders Retreat in Nusa Dua, Bali, which was held along with the IMF-WB Annual Meetings.

This former Indonesian ambassador to the Netherlands said she always packs her belongings neatly at anytime. She has never let her goods get scattered around the floor of her room. Instead, she puts them into her luggage tidily, and place it beside her bed.

"When I am sleeping, I remain fully clothed so that when an earthquake shakes like what I experienced on early Thursday, I quickly leave with my luggage and bag," she said.

Luckily, the tremors of the 6.3-magnitude earthquake that shook certain parts of East Java could just be felt for a few seconds. At that time, while staying at her hotel in Nusa Dua, she had just finished preparing for President Joko Widodos meeting agenda.

She admitted that she got a bid panicked when she felt the tremors. However, she was then able to manage the situation. Luckily, the earthquake ended so quickly that she could go back to bed after ensuring that the quake was not followed by a tsunami warning.

Due to the fact that Indonesia lies on the Circum-Pacific Belt, which is also known as the Ring of Fire, it has become this nations destiny if many tectonic plates meet and cause frequent volcanic and seismic activities.

What the Indonesian people need to do is avoiding all wrongdoings that Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala (almighty God) prohibits and keep praying for His forgiveness and blessings. Last but not least, the people must be assisted to get prepared for the worst.

Therefore, enabling the people to get well prepared by informing them on their vulnerable regions, and training and educating them about what to do to minimize the impact of the catastrophe is absolutely important.

For those living in six of 17 districts and cities in South Sumatra Province, they have earlier been informed by the Palembang BMKG authorities that their residential areas are prone to earthquakes because they are close to the "Ring of Fire".

The vulnerable districts and cities are Pagaralam, Lubuklinggau, Lahat, OKU Selatan, Empat Lawang, and Musirawas, said Nandang, head of the agencys Data and Information Division, said.

Certain parts of South Sumatra Province were vulnerable enough to earthquakes that could potentially occur if the tectonic plates keep moving, he said.

This early warning needs to be followed by concrete actions by the government to help the people to get ready for the worst so that the impact of the earthquakes can be minimized.

Source: ANTARA News

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