Kristi McCracken, December 3, 2010
The remote islands in western Indonesia are a popular tourist destination, but recent disasters have sent even the locals fleeing the area. Three natural disasters: an earthquake, a tsunami and a volcanic eruption all struck Indonesia in the space of 24 hours.
Off the Indian Ocean side of Sumatra, in late October, a 7.7-magnitude earthquake sent 10-foot waves 2,000 feet inland. The earthquake struck along the same fault line that triggered the massive 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami stirring up memories of the deadliest one on record with 230,000 victims.
Officials said the death toll from the most recent tsunami had reached more than 400 people, leaving behind bodies strewn on beaches and buried in debris. Disaster response officials believe the final death toll could exceed 600 because many victims were pulled out to sea when the tsunami receded. Almost 13,000 people are living in makeshift camps on the islands after their homes were wiped out by the wave which was triggered by the strong earthquake.
A day later, on the outskirts of Yogyakarta, a city on Java Island, Mount Merapi erupted. Scientists believe that the quake the day before caused Mount Merapi to begin erupting again. The volcano launched hot ash miles into the air sending lava down the mountain slopes claiming over 100 lives. Two weeks later another eruption spewed out volcanic ash causing people to flee a city at the foot of Mount Merapi by any means possible. Indonesian officials evacuated a 12 mile radius declaring it a danger zone because nearly 5 million cubic feet of lava had been released. In towns not ordered to evacuate many residents fled anyway fearing mud rivers.
On the slope of a hill above the Code River, black volcanic sludge burst riverbanks and poured into buildings racing at 60 mph. Heavy rains threatened more deadly volcanic mudflows along this river, which flows into the heart of Yogyakarta which is the second most important tourist destination in Indonesia after Bali.
Indonesia is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions because it sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire." Mount Merapi, also known as fire mountain, is the most active of 129 volcanoes in Indonesia. At an elevation of nearly 10,000 feet at its summit, Mount Merapi is one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes. The problem is that it is located in one of the island's most densely populated areas. Smoke rises above the mountaintop 300 days a year, but recent eruptions have displaced nearly half a million Indonesian people.
Many Indonesians live in the shadow of one volcano or another, feeding livestock and raising crops. At one point nearly 280,000 people took refuge in emergency shelters. Further eruptions forced people to evacuate to shelters. Islanders wore face masks when Mount Bromo, another active volcano nearby began spewing ash blanketing their villages. Join us in our effort to alleviate their distress. On the 4th Sunday of December which is December 26, the day after Christmas, another wave of healing energy is scheduled to circle the planet at noon. Help seed the healing energy by making it a daily morning practice to listen to the monthly focus meditation on Indonesia.
In the evening you’re invited to listen to the compassion meditation which will help open your heart and assist in transmuting the suffering of those in this region. The natural contribution of an unrestricted heart is compassion.
Our beloved Mother Earth has spoken once again and lives continue to be drastically changed in Indonesia as the government offers to relocate or transmigrate people with the offer of land and six months of living expenses if they’ll move to on Borneo. You’re invited to join many planetary citizens to contribute prayers and meditations to help heal this new wound.
Thank you for your loving act of service.
— Kristi McCracken is a journalist from the Central Valley in California.