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Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Wisma Putra: Malaysians safe
No Malaysians have been killed or injured in the two devastating natural disasters which ripped Indonesia early this week. Wisma Putra, which confirmed this yesterday, however, said as a safety precaution, the Malaysian embassy evacuated 41 students and their relatives from the Islamic school Pesantren Sirajul Mukhlasi in Magelang late yesterday night.
Only Muhamad Izzuddin Muhamad Nazeri, also a student at the school, flew home yesterday.
A 7.7-magnitude earthquake rocked the Mentawai islands in western Sumatra on Monday, triggering a tsunami which killed at least 154 people with hundreds more missing.
The next day, Indonesia's most volatile volcano Mount Merapi in Jawa erupted, smothering the city of Yogyakarta with thick ash and killing at least 25 people.
Officials at Wisma Putra said they were working with the Indonesian government to ensure that every citizen was safe.
It is understood that the authorities are working to ensure Malaysian students in Gadjah Mada University, which is near Yogyakarta, are safe and accounted for.
Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago, is prone to volcanic activities and earthquakes due to its position in the Pacific Ring of Fire.
The fault that ruptured on Monday also caused the 9.1-magnitude earthquake in 2004, which unleashed a deadly tsunami, which killed more than 200,000 people in the early morning of Boxing Day.
The sacred Mount Merapi on neighbouring island Jawa has its fair share of victims, too.
Four years ago, the volcano rumbled and spewed lava, forcing thousands to run for their lives.
In previous eruptions in 1994, the mountain sent a searing gas cloud that burned 60 people to death. About 1,300 people were killed when the volcano erupted in 1930.
While a big eruption is still possible, experts expected the explosions to be less violent.
The BBC reported that Indonesian government vulcanologist Subandrio said volcanic activity appeared to have subsided based on the recordings of the levels of hot ash in the air.
However, he said he expected more eruptions soon, although there was no way of telling when or how big they would be.
Non-governmental organisation Mercy Malaysia will send a two-member Rapid Assessment Team to Padang, Indonesia, today before heading to Mentawai islands.
The team is led by Mercy Malaysia executive council member Norazam Ab Samah, accompanied by medical coordinator Che Tah Hanafi. They will be conducting an on-the-ground assessment to determine the humanitarian needs in the region devastated by the tsunami.
"Our initial disaster assessment team will ascertain the situation on the ground, and most importantly, the health needs of the tsunami-affected people.
"Only then can we get an accurate picture of how to best help the emergency response on the ground there," said Mercy Malaysia president Datuk Dr Ahmad Faizal Mohd Perdaus.
"We are being constantly updated by our local Indonesian volunteer, Azrim Mirza, who is stationed in Medan, and with his assistance, our team can be more efficient and cost-effective," he said.