29.3.09

Situ Gintung search drags on as death toll reaches 91

In the aftermath of the deadly collapse of the Situ Gintung sluice gate and embankment in Cireundeu, Tangerang, a joint search and rescue team scoured the area devastated by the dam burst on Saturday, recovering more bodies and bringing the death toll to 91. 

Coordinator of the police post at STIE Ahmad Dahlan, Comr. Dahlan said that the teams had found 33 bodies as of Saturday evening. 

Dahlan, however, said that the team found it difficult to identify the bodies recovered from the thick mud and building rubble. 

“Many victims are not registered by our neighborhood unit because they were university students who rented rooms in the neighborhood,” Bejo, an official of the severely-damaged neighborhood unit (RT) 04, said. 

The police said they were still searching for 73 people reportedly missing from the 15-minute disaster. 

More than 1,000 search and rescue team members would keep searching for victims every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for a week. 

“Then, we will use backhoes and bulldozers to clean up the rubble,” Tangerang military commander Lt. Col. Joni Abdi said, as quoted by Vivanews.com. 

The dam burst, triggered by torrential rains on Friday evening, had flatted 319 homes, schools and a university campus. More than 500 residents became homeless and were staying at temporary shelters erected at several locations around the disaster area. 

“So far, we’ve got enough food. But, we don’t have clothes to change into or clean water to take a shower,” said Sarminah, a resident of RT 01, who has been residing in the area for eight years. 

But, another victim, Supriyati, a mother of two, said what she wants most is a new house. 
“What we are thinking right now is about our house. The walls are all crushed although my house still has the pillars,” she said. 

Most residents whose homes were swamped with water during the flash flood were seen cleaning up debris and mud from their homes on Saturday. 

“We have decided to move to a safer location. For the time being, we will rent a house ,” said children’s rights activist Seto Mulyadi. 

The flash flood, called by residents a ‘mini-tsunami’, had swept through Seto’s house and damaged five cars and one motorcycle, along with important documents. 

Saturday’s massive clean-up and search, however, was slowed by an influx of unwanted visitors as thousands of people who came to see the area. 

“We had to ask the people that came for ID. We didn’t want any thieves coming to loot valuables from abandoned houses,” said Denny, one of the locals who asked every visitor to show their ID. 

“We have seen the disaster on TV, but we want to see it directly with our own eyes,” Tajudin, a resident of Palmerah, West Jakarta, said. Tajudin and some of his neighbors came to the site on motorcycles and said they also wanted to see the rescue team searching for victims. 

An official with the Public Affairs Ministry, Widagdo, said that the ministry would not immediately rebuild the collapsed embankment.  
“We will instead make a temporary 2-kilometer canal to let the Situ Gintung lake water flow into the Pesanggrahan River below, to ease the pressure on the lake and prevent any further collapses,” Widagdo said. Separately, Golkar Party chairman Jusuf Kalla handed down some Rp 1 billion (US$60,846) in donations for the victims through Banten Governor Ratu Atut Chosiyah at the party’s campaign in Jakarta.Source: Multa Fidrus and Irawaty Wardany , THE JAKARTA POST , TANGERANG | Sun, 03/29/2009 11:20 AM | Headlines 

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