Wed, 22 Nov 2000

Residents cannot live in landslide-hit areas: Official

BANDUNG (JP): The landslide hit areas in the regency of Purworejo, Central Java are geologically uninhabitable, thus relocation of the residents are imperative, an official at the directorate of environmental geology said.

Sutikno, head of the natural disaster office at the directorate said a team from his office comprising five experts were sent to the areas to conduct a study soon after the deadly landslides hit on Nov. 5.

"They found that it was very dangerous to live in those areas. The land is rocky and has many steep slopes with deep fractures despite the fact that the areas are full of vegetation," Sutikno told The Jakarta Post here on Tuesday.

He said the team explored, among others, the villages in Plipir, Kemanukan, Krendetan and Karangsari. Most of these villages are located on the slopes.

"The expedition covered an area of between 4,000 meters and 5,000 meters by 106 meters. The team found fracture plate zones, which were the result of the motion of the Earth's rigid crust millions of years ago. The fracture zones, which then formed very rigid rocks within the thick soil, are prone to landslides, especially during and after incessant rains."

Sutikno also pointed out that there were 11 other areas in the regency vulnerable to landslides. He warned that landslides could occur in areas east of Bagelen and in the western and northern parts of the Kulonprogo regency at anytime.

It was Purworejo Regent Marsaid who suggested relocating residents affected by the landslides.

Central Java Governor Mardiyanto has also expressed his approval, saying that the areas were no longer suitable for inhabitation. However, the statements by both the regent and the governor can only be supported technically after geological data being collected by Sutikno's office were completed.

Sutikno said the first survey was conducted on Nov. 6.

He suggested that the residents be resettled in safe areas close to the disaster sites "in order for them to continue their lives."

" Open spaces along rivers or river basins are not recommended. And those living in the village of Karangsari could move some 800 meters west. "

The landslides, which claimed at least 50 lives, devastated several villages in three districts. (25/sur)