05 November 2007

Local Knowledge or Plain Stupid?

Mt. Kelud located in East Java has been on heightened alert for the past two weeks as volcanic and seismic activity has been increasing. The suggestions of the meteorological heads is that an eruption is imminent. Most recent reports say that in the last 24 hours the water temperature of the crater lake has increased a significant 25 degrees. Apparently a surge in temperature of this me is indicative of magma getting close to the surface and consequently it is also indicative of a possible eruption.

The Government has ordered an evacuation but it is thought that some 25,000 inhabitants have decided to play a little bit of Russian Roulette and are refusing to leave. The Government has also sort to put in place a 10km exclusion zone, but as with anything else in Indonesia, enforcement is the key and there appears that there has been little or no enforcement of the exclusion zone. Yet, the Government seems to be relying on the belief that they cannot force people to leave and if people want to stay then the outcome is not the responsibility of the Government.

Many locals are of the belief that they have experienced Kelud eruptions in the past and have excellent local knowledge as to where the lahar (a combination or mud, rock, and ash) if the volcano erupts. The question as to why stay when there is obvious and imminent danger; simply, who will tend the crops and the livestock if everyone flees. When it is all said and done, one still has to make a living and probably support a large and extended family.

Aside from this the villager have reverted to their traditional beliefs that if they are respectful of the mountain the mountain will be respectful of them. This means that villagers ensure the turning off of all lights and conversation is but a whisper.

Only time will tell if this local knowledge will trump the apparent foolishness of going head-to-head with mother nature and her fury!

1 comment:

Yari NK said...

Well... Experience is the best teacher. If they can't learn from the best teacher, well.... that's a mere foolishness. And like other best teachers they are taking "heavy tolls" Too bad.