Earthquakes, landslides, and floods kill hundreds, displace thousands . . .
Last week, Indonesia was hit by at least three major natural disasters, with a potential fourth one on the horizon. They include a 6.2- magnitude earthquake that has killed at least 84 people and left 19,000 homeless, heavy flooding that has displaced more than 112,000 residents, and a series of landslides that have killed at least 19 people. Authorities are now monitoring Mount Semeru, an active volcano that continues to show ominous signs of volcanic activity after erupting in December and forcing hundreds to evacuate. Authorities have urged the public to remain vigilant as record-breaking monsoon rains continue unabated, hampering relief and rescue efforts.
Government’s disaster response under strain . . .
This latest slate of natural disasters comes as Indonesia braces for its worst spike of COVID-19 cases and deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. Today, Indonesia set a new record for COVID-19 daily deaths, and January’s monthly case count is set to surpass all previous months as early as tomorrow. National disaster response officials have stressed the importance of following pandemic protocols and distributing masks and COVID-19 tests among evacuees and survivors, fearing potential super-spreader events in disaster zones. The national government has mobilized the military to assist national, local, and volunteer relief efforts. But humanitarian relief and government response teams have had difficulty reaching victims beyond major urban centres.
Search continues for victims’ remains from plane crash . . .
While dealing with COVID-19 and natural disasters, government officials continue to search for the remains of passengers aboard Sriwijaya Air Flight 182 after the plane crashed into the Java Sea shortly following takeoff on January 9. Severe weather conditions, which may have contributed to the plane crash, have complicated search and rescue efforts. The crash comes in the wake of financial difficulties for Indonesia’s airline industry, which has been forced to consolidate after being grounded for months and has continued to suffer from a lengthy history of airline accidents.