Wednesday, December 28, 2011

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Mount Gamalama Continues its Eruption - Leaves Bitter Taste, Dead Crops and Damaged Farms in Spice Islands, Indonesia! UPDATE: Fast-Moving Mudflows Streaming From the Volcano Kills Four Villagers!

Mount Gamalama continues to spew thick ashes and gas from Ternate, Indonesia, since December 5. The mud and ash left from the explosion have decimated local farmers' crops, leaving many with little hope of making ends meet.

Muhammad Kasim, a 35-year-old clove farmer, has had to delay his plan to go on the Hajj pilgrimage next year because of damage to his crops on the slopes of Mount Gamalama following an eruption earlier this month. The clove fields surrounding Moya subdistrict in Ternate, North Maluku, have been blanketed in volcanic ash since the December 5 eruption. “The crops are damaged and the harvest this year will not bring in anything significant,” Kasim said.

He said he had been counting on receiving Rp 70 million ($7,705) for his crops, Rp 32 million of which he would have set aside to fund his pilgrimage. Kasim, however, can count himself more fortunate than many of his neighbors, as he also runs a small store close to his home that brings him Rp 2 million a month. Kirman, a nutmeg farmer, said he had initially planned on using the proceeds from the harvest to build a house, but the eruption has put an end to such prospects. The volcanic ash has destroyed most of his mangosteen and durian crops as well. “I don’t know how I’ll make ends meet,” he said. “I don’t have any other source of income.”

Thousands of farmers in Ternate face similarly bleak prospects, but they are not the only victims of the disaster. The lahar — mudflow of volcanic debris deposited in rivers and streams — has destroyed more than 100 houses along riverbanks, the municipal administration reports. “We estimate the cost of the damage due to the eruption at Rp 15 billion,” said Jemmy D. Brifing, head of the local Regional Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD). Members of the Ternate legislative council called on the Ternate and North Maluku administrations, as well as the central government, to send aid to farmers and other affected residents. Local councilor Asgar Saleh said that people in the area were struggling to pull through. “I’ve asked Ternate officials to gather data on the affected people so any assistance we can offer them can be included in the administration’s budget,” he said.

If funds from the Ternate budget are insufficient, Asgar added, he will seek funds from the provincial and central governments. He also called on large businesses in the province to step in and aid the relief effort. Marlison Hakim, the central bank representative in Ternate, said there was a need for farmers to manage their finances better. Clove and nutmeg farmers in the area reap tens of millions of rupiah, and sometimes hundreds of millions, during each harvest. However, the money is quickly spent on consumer goods, he said, adding that if a certain amount were put in a savings account after each harvest, the farmers would have a financial safety net. Ternate Mayor Burhan Abdurrahman said the city and provincial administrations were committed to helping the victims of the eruption rebuild. Mt. Gamalama’s most recent eruptions were in 1980, 1992 and 2003. The largest eruption on record took place in 1712. Debris from that eruption can today be seen throughout Ternate. - Jakarta Globe.
Officials say fast-moving mudflows streaming from the mouth of a volcano in eastern Indonesia have killed four villagers. About 1,000 others have fled their homes. Mount Gamalama, located in the Molucca Islands, sprang back to life this month with a powerful, non-fatal eruption. Government spokesman Yusuf Sunnya said Wednesday that days of heavy rains triggered flows of cold lava, rocks and other debris that slammed into villages near the base Tuesday night. He said four people were killed and more than a dozen others were hospitalized with injuries ranging from broken bones to head wounds. Indonesia is a vast archipelago with millions of people living on mountains or near fertile flood plains. Seasonal downpours here often cause landslides. - Time.



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