Sun, 21 Nov 2010

Yogyakarta (ANTARA News) - The fatal eruptions of Mount Merapi have claimed several hundreds of lives and crippled the people`s economy in the volcanic disaster-hit areas.

The Mount Merapi`s deadly eruptions that occurred on October 26 and November 5 were expected to have caused economic losses with total worth of Rp3.4 trillion in Sleman district, Yogyakarta Province.

According to Head of Sleman district, Sri Purnomo, the losses were caused by ruins of such business sectors as tourism, culinary, commercial accommodation, agriculture, plantation, and livestock.

"The total economic losses are caused by the deaths of our people`s economic sectors, such as commercial accommodation, tourism, culinary, agriculture, plantation, and livestock," he said.

"We are attempting to restore our people`s economy," Sri Purnomo told participants of a seminar on "the post-eruption recovery program for Yogyakarta" here.

In helping restore his people`s economy, the government would build temporary shelters for the evacuees despite the Mount Merapi`s "watch out" status which remained unchanged until Thursday (Nov. 18).

The shelters were mainly functioned as "temporary houses" for the Mount Merapi eruption refugees but they were also expected to boost the people`s economy, he said.

"We have prepared necessary things for the shelter construction process, such as needed land. We hope the shelters will enable our people to restore their economic lives."

"The shelter construction sites are also not far from their villages of origin so that their economic culture can relatively be maintained," he said.

The Mount Merapi evacuees also looked reluctant to stay at the shelters built a bid far from their villages of origin. Therefore, the related parties had chosen some shelter sites, he said.

The government had respectively prepared three hectares for the shelter construction site in Umbulharjo and 13 hectares for Kepuharjo village, Cangkringan sub-district, he said.

The same shelters would also be set up in the villages of Glagaharjo, Wukirsari, and Argomulyo, Cangkringan subdistrict, he said.

"After all of our people have stayed at the shelters, we are then going to talk to them about reconstruction and rehabilitation matters," he said.

About the total losses that locals suffered from the Mount Merapi eruptions, Anggito Abimanyu, the Gadjah Mada University (UGM) economist, said the amount was "huge".

The amount of those economic losses could rise due to the volcano`s ongoing unstable activities, he said.

Abimanyu said the accumulative economic losses could reach Rp5 trillion.
"Our state budget cannot cover the need. What we need to think about now is how to restore our people`s economy between four and five years from now," he said.

In an effort to accelerate the people`s economic recovery, the Yogyakarta city`s industrial, trade, cooperative and agriculture division organized an exhibition for small and medium enterprises.

Yogyakarta city`s deputy mayor Haryadi Suyuti said the exhibition held at the Atrium Malioboro Mall on Thursday was meant to show to public that Yogyakarta remained secure for visitors.

The small and medium enterprises were part of the people`s economy and they were integrated into tourism sector, which was the city`s economic locomotive, he said.

Mount Merapi had erupted repeatedly in the past two or three weeks but its most fatal eruptions occurred on October 26 and November 5.

As a result of the eruptions, at least 259 people had perished and many others sustained burns and became displaced.

The total number of refugees being sheltered in 639 refugee centers in Yogyakarta and Central Java reportedly reached 367,548 people.

Mount Merapi, on the border between two provinces, lies geographically close to Yogyakarta but is officially part of Central Java.

The volcano`s eruptions spewed hot clouds of ash and lava into the air and sent lava down its many slopes.

Besides killing and injuring several hundred people, eruptions had also damaged 867 hectares of forested land on the volcano`s slopes in Sleman District, Yogyakarta, with material losses estimated at Rp33 billion.

The damaged forested areas included the Merapi National Park, community forests and local people`s plantations.

Mount Merapi is one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia, whose eruptions have regularly been detected since 1548.