BIMA — At first Kiki Mariam wasn’t too concerned as the tail end of a cyclone sent cascades of roof-rattling rain onto the riverside home she shared with her husband Robitan in Bima, a city of around 170,000 people on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa.“At first the water was low and then it got higher,” the 37-year-old recalled, one hand resting on a sawdust-speckled workman’s table, the other pointing to the riverbank a couple of yards away. Now the river is flowing as normal, about ten feet below ground level down a 70 degree angle bank. But during that mid-December morning in 2016, as the rain beat down hour after hour, Mariam saw the river’s ineluctable swell and soon forgot her breakfast-time frustration about a leaking roof. “I didn’t think it would get higher than that,” Mariam said, pointing at the riverbank. But as the rain hammered down relentlessly, the river rose and rose, until the water, ominously, was climbing close to ground level. “We saw it wasn’t going to stop – it took quite a long time, but it came,” Mariam said. “I was really scared, we were asked to leave, so we grabbed what we could and moved away from the river,’ she said, as husband Robitan, 39, pointed to a head-high spot on a nearby wall, the faded difference in hue indicating the high water mark of the 2016 deluge that destroyed their house and left 100,000 people homeless in and around Bima.
JAKARTA – Aid workers, soldiers and others tore through the rubble of collapsed buildings in the northwestern Indonesian province of Aceh on Wednesday in a frantic search for people trapped by an earthquake that killed at least 97 people. early Wednesday morning, officials said. Maj. Gen. Tatang Sulaiman, chief of the army in Aceh province, said four people had been pulled from the rubble alive by late Wednesday.. Another four or five still believed to be buried, but he didn’t say if they were dead or alive. By sundown, local disaster relief officials said the number of injured had reached 600. The number of victims was predicted to increase “because some people are still stuck under the damaged buildings,” National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said. The magnitude 6.5 quake was centered about six miles north of Reuleut, a town in northern Aceh, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The worst damage occurred in Aceh’s Pidie Jaya district, where hundreds of people were rushed to hospitals and dozens of buildings were flattened. Local officials appealed for emergency relief supplies and heavy equipment to move debris and aid in the search for survivors.
JAKARTA – Indonesia will hold regional elections on Dec. 9, but Mardiana Deren, a land rights campaigner from the Dayak ethnic group on Kalimantan, is in two minds about what difference the poll will make. Deren has sought to curb the clearing of forests and spread of oil palm plantations on Kalimantan, or Borneo, but despairs of getting political support for her cause. “I have not found any candidate who could be a sympathizer and not sure I would find any,” she said. Despite being an award-winning campaigner, Deren was non-committal about contesting elections herself. “I would need a lot of money to stand,” she said, discussing how parties and candidates have to find the cash to run often expensive election campaigns – an outlay that often blurs the line between legitimate expense and vote-buying and can leave the winning candidate in debt to powerful businesses.
YANGON – For the Rohingya and Bangladeshi refugees rescued near Aceh, the fishermen’s heroics ended what for some was a four month ordeal at sea. “When they were found by the fishermen they were all incredibly weak and many were barely conscious, especially the women and children. Those who were conscious were crying for help. Some jumped into the sea when they saw the fishermen approach asking to be rescued,” said Nasruddin, Humanitarian Coordinator for The Geutanyoe Foundation, which has been working with the survivors. “We have a wisdom that called in local language as “Pemulia Jamee Adat Geutanyoe” or ‘serving the guest is our ritual,’ said Teuku Youvan, a member of the Aceh Disaster Management Agency’s advisory board.
BANDA ACEH – If Bali-style hedonism is out of the question for Aceh, visitors might be drawn by what locals are calling “disaster tourism.” That means promoting the region’s stirring tsunami memorials — such as the imposing PLTD Apung, the Tsunami Museum, with its dank and sheer water tunnel, designed to mimic the soaring tsunami waves, and the disaster research center, which doubles as an evacuation tower and sits near a mass grave holding the remains of almost 15,000 tsunami victims. Reminders of the tsunami dot Banda Aceh, ensuring that although the disaster happened a decade ago, memories remain poignantly and ominously vivid in the minds of survivors.
BANDA ACEH – It was just after 7 pm on a Saturday evening, and the manager of the new King’O coffee and doughnuts outlet in Banda Aceh was lamenting a slow night’s business. Henry, who would only give one name, said he opened the shop on May 17 this year in response to what he called a gap in the market. “Any time I fly back to Banda Aceh from Jakarta, Medan, Surabaya, I see people bringing big boxes of doughnuts – Dunkin Donuts, Krispy Kreme, local brands,” he said. With no such outlet in Aceh’s regional capital, Henry and some fellow Chinese-Indonesians set about filling a niche. “Business was great for the first few weeks, every evening the place was full,” he said, rattling his knuckles on the top of a gleaming new Italian coffee machine. But during Ramadan, the Muslim fasting season, King’O was forced to close during fasting hours, along with all the other restaurants in town
BANDA ACEH – Almost a decade on from the ruinous, deadly 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Banda Aceh is back on its feet.
Last Wednesday, people in the province were on their feet, voting, along with almost 200 million other Indonesians, in the third presidential election held since ousting of dictator Suharto back amid economic collapse back in 1998.
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia — Almost a decade after a devastating earthquake and tsunami killed 170,000 people in Aceh, voters in Indonesia’s northwestern-most province are gearing up to have their say in today’s presidential election.