BANDA ACEH, Indonesia: Taking a stroll by means of Banda Aceh’s iconic Blang Padang Park, it’s arduous to think about that 15 years in the past, this place was scattered with lifeless our bodies and particles after a robust tsunami killed 1000’s of individuals.
Right now, joggers within the shady park are accompanied by the sounds of singing birds within the morning, whereas at night time the place glows from meals stalls providing native dishes similar to Acehnese noodle and steamed fish dumpling.
That is in sharp distinction to Dec 26, 2004 when a large 9.1 magnitude quake struck undersea 160km off Sumatra’s coast, unleashing a 30m wall of water and flattening buildings.
It additionally killed 170,000 individuals in Aceh and 1000’s of others in additional than 10 different Indian Ocean international locations similar to Thailand, Sri Lanka and even Somalia in Africa.
Right now, a monument named “Aceh Thanks the World” stands within the park, expressing gratitude to the 53 international locations that helped Aceh.
Throughout the park, a museum was inaugurated in 2009 to create consciousness about catastrophe preparedness.
Whereas Aceh individuals interviewed by CNA appeared to have some data about tsunamis and earthquakes, it’s removed from sure whether or not they’re sufficiently ready within the occasion of one other main catastrophe.
“The infrastructure (in Aceh) is now higher, however catastrophe preparedness continues to be only a discourse,” mentioned Mr Teuku Dadek, who’s the provincial authorities secretary assistant in control of economic system and growth.
On a December afternoon, a bunch of feminine junior highschool college students enthusiastically studied placards within the Tsunami Museum.
As 13-year olds, they weren’t but born when Aceh was hit by the lethal tsunami, which contained an power stage equal to the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima throughout World Conflict II.
Nonetheless, the younger guests appeared fairly knowledgeable about that fateful day and what they should do if it ever occurs once more.
“A tsunami is horrifying. Even imagining it frightens me,” 13-year-old Moufidia advised CNA.
Her good friend Zahra added that they’ve been taught concerning the tsunami for the reason that fifth grade and what to do if one happens.
“They advised us if a tsunami occurs, now we have to instantly run to greater floor. After which ask for assist. Inform individuals your identify, your father or mother’s identify after which they are going to make it easier to,” the eighth-grader mentioned.
When CNA requested the scholars the place they need to flee in case of a tsunami or an earthquake, they talked about a number of locations together with the Blang Padang Park.
MANY HAD NEVER HEARD OF A TSUNAMI
Located on the so-called Ring of Fireplace the place tectonic plates collide inflicting frequent earthquakes, Indonesia is without doubt one of the most disaster-prone international locations on the planet.
However, when the tsunami struck 15 years in the past, most Indonesians had by no means heard of it.
Survivors interviewed by CNA regretted their lack of information again then. They mentioned they might have evacuated faster and extra lives might have been saved.
Recounting their experiences, they mentioned they had been conscious that Aceh was vulnerable to earthquakes.
Many ran out of their houses when the earthquake rocked their province on that Sunday morning simply earlier than 8am. However a couple of minutes later, most went again into their homes assuming that it might be protected sufficient.
They subsequent heard a loud bang.
“My spouse requested me ‘what’s that sound?’ I wasn’t certain however I advised her it was simply the Free Aceh Motion combating with the military once more,” recounted Aceh resident Wen Arman, 43.
“I then continued fixing the flower pots which fell due to the quake,” mentioned Mr Arman who misplaced his spouse and each his youngsters within the tragedy.
Minutes later, individuals began panicking once they realised the water was rising. They began operating but it surely was too late for a lot of of them, he added.
Three years in the past, a 6.5 magnitude earthquake once more struck Aceh at daybreak on Dec 7.
The shock didn’t produce a tsunami but it surely left greater than 100 individuals lifeless. Greater than 1,000 individuals had been additionally injured in Pidie and Pidie Jaya regencies.
Despite the fact that the earthquake was not as extreme in comparison with 2004, many buildings similar to homes, mosques, and roads had been destroyed.
RECORDED IN HISTORY, FORGOTTEN IN MODERN TIMES
There have been historic information of tsunami within the space. In 1907, as an example, tsunami is alleged to have struck Simeulue island, simply 150km off the west coast of Aceh mainland.
When the tsunami struck in 2004, Simeulue was additionally the closest inhabited island close to the epicentre.
However solely seven individuals out of its 78,000 inhabitants died. This was largely attributed to the truth that they evacuated rapidly to the hills as soon as they felt the earthquake.
The individuals of Simeulue mentioned they had been conscious a disaster would occur. That is as a result of their native knowledge named Smong – a sequence of lyrics on what to do when a tsunami takes place – had been handed down for generations.
Smong taught them that when a giant earthquake occurs they usually see low tide, they need to instantly run to greater floor as a result of it means a monstrous wave will all of the sudden emerge that might submerge their total land.
It’s believed Smong was created after the 1907 tsunami and locals determined to inform the story to their youngsters.
In northeast Aceh, a time period that means an enormous wave occurring unexpectedly has been identified for hundreds of years as Ie Buena.
The time period is used a number of occasions in an historical Aceh manuscript about earthquakes suggesting tsunami occurred through the nineteenth century.
However the custom to inform the story of the Ie Buena might have been uncared for when an uptick of insurgencies gripped the province in 1976.
The formal instructional curriculum additionally didn’t train youngsters about tsunami.
WHAT HAS BEEN DONE SINCE 2004?
Some headway has been made in Aceh when it comes to catastrophe preparedness.
The authorities have constructed evacuation routes, particularly in coastal areas. They’ve additionally arrange native tsunami early warning programs and put in sensors within the province.
“We solely had two sensors in Aceh previous to the tsunami, however after that we realized and now we have elevated it to 13,” mentioned head of the Meterological, Climatological, and Geophysical Company Dwikorita Karnawati.
There are at the moment 170 sensors all through Indonesia.
The federal government has additionally held common drills, and this has concerned all ranges of the colleges together with the kindergartens.
Nonetheless, Mr Dadek of the provincial authorities famous that the drills are solely held if the federal government proclaims them.
There are barely any drills initiated by people, he mentioned, including that given the potential for frequent disasters, extra ought to have been performed.
There have additionally been studies that the tsunami sensors, together with the tsunami buoys, have been stolen or usually are not functioning on account of poor upkeep.
NEW DISASTER PREPAREDNESS PROGRAMME
Whereas the Acehnese at the moment are extra conscious of the hazards of a tsunami, the native authorities mentioned individuals are not able to take care of one other catastrophe.
“We’re all really not prepared for a catastrophe,” Aceh Besar regent Marwadi Ali mentioned.
He added: “We must always be taught from a catastrophe, together with from a tsunami”.
Thus, in mid-December, the nationwide catastrophe company launched a programme dubbed KATANA, an abbreviation for the Indonesian phrases of Catastrophe Resilient Households.
It goals to equip households with catastrophe preparedness data by means of coaching.
The catastrophe company together with varied authorities our bodies will assist households with danger catastrophe consciousness and strengthen their catastrophe data. It has additionally pledged to empower individuals to save lots of themselves, their households, neighbours and others.
“If solely the individuals of Aceh knew and understood the dangers (of an earthquake and tsunami) and how you can reply, the variety of victims wouldn’t be that large,” the top of the nationwide catastrophe company Mr Doni Monardo mentioned referring to the 2004 earthquake and tsunami.
Among the many data to be imparted embody an understanding of the development of individuals’s houses and evacuation routes.
Mr Monardo hoped that with the scheme, survival price throughout disasters will likely be 98 per cent.
DISASTER PREPAREDNESS LACKING AT NATIONAL LEVEL
General, it might appear that lots must be performed about catastrophe preparedness nationally.
Final yr, at the least 4814 individuals died from disasters.
When Banten and Lampung provinces had been struck by a tsunami on Dec 22, 2018, movies of panicked individuals operating on inundated streets went viral.
Then, officers dismissed claims tsunami had occurred. The Meteorological, Climatological, and Geophysical Company (BMKG) additionally mentioned on its Twitter deal with that night time it didn’t file an earthquake that precipitated a tsunami.
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Within the now-deleted Tweet, the company claimed that what occurred was a tidal wave.
Solely the next morning did they problem a press release confirming a tsunami did happen on Sunda Strait because of the eruption and partial collapse of the Anak Krakatau volcano.
At the moment, the nationwide catastrophe company conceded that it did not have an early warning system for tsunamis brought on by underwater landslides or volcanic eruptions within the sea. Its early warning system solely allowed for the monitoring of tsunamis brought on by earthquakes.
Given all these, the top of the nationwide catastrophe company Mr Monardo hopes that the KATANA programme can attain each household in Indonesia within the subsequent 5 years.
“Earthquakes and tsunamis are recurrent occasions. We now have to take motion,” he mentioned.