Indonesia drops disinfectant on areas obliterated by quake
HELICOPTERS were dropping disinfectant on neighbourhoods in the earthquake- and tsunami-stricken city of Palu to reduce the risk of disease from the thousands of victims believed to have been buried alive in the catastrophe, Indonesia’s disaster agency said Thursday.
The agency said that 430 hectares of land and nearly 3500 homes were destroyed when liquefaction turned soft soil to mud in Central Sulawesi during the September 28 earthquake.
Spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a statement the disinfectant is necessary for three devastated neighbourhoods because of the large number of victims not recovered by the search and rescue effort that ended on October 12.
“Bombing and spraying of disinfectants is an effort to anticipate the spread of diseases through vectors such as flies, cockroaches, and mice,” he said.
Some ground spraying was also carried out but much of the land is too unstable to do that comprehensively.
The magnitude 7.4 quake and 11-metre-high tsunami wave, which devastated miles of coastline, killed 2103 people. Disaster officials say another 5000 people from neighbourhoods swallowed by liquefaction remain unaccounted for.
Officials say the destroyed Palu neighbourhoods of Balaroa and Petobo, and Jono Oge in neighbouring Sigi district, cannot be redeveloped. Balaroa and Petobo will be turned into green spaces with monuments to those who perished.
Ahmad Yurianto, head of the Ministry of Health’s crisis centre, said groundwater needs to be checked regularly for contamination and drainage established to collect rainwater before it enters the city’s river.
The Indonesian government is considering a 6 trillion rupiah (K624.1 billion/us$394 million) plan to build “New Palu City,” and the World Bank has said it can provide the country up to $1 billion in loans for reconstruction and improving disaster preparedness.
“It is impossible to rebuild homes in the original places,” public works and housing minister Basoeki Hadimoeljono told reporters earlier this week.
The Indonesian Red Cross said Thursday there is a massive effort underway to distribute 215 metric tonnes of relief such as tarpaulins, clean drinking water and other items to tens of thousands of displaced people before monsoon rains set in.