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Posts Tagged ‘indonesia’

The beautiful temples of Bali

Posted by Admin on May 27, 2012

http://in.lifestyle.yahoo.com/photos–the-beautiful-temples-of-bali.html?page=all

The beautiful temples of Bali

The Indonesian island of Bali is home to the majority of the country’s Hindus. Balinese Hinduism is characterized by the worship of the supreme god Acintya, along with the trinity in Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The art and ritual of the Balinese Hindus trace back to influences from the 4th century when Hinduism reached the island’s shores. Balinese temples are ornate, beautiful and situated in visually stunning locales. LAKSHMI SHARATH traipses through Bali and returns with these breathtaking picture postcards.

Note from the Admin : – Please include Bali and Thailand as well to the glorious era of the Hindu Empire with strikingly similar architecture across the landmass as well as extremely similar mythological stories and lore of the same group of Gods who were worshiped and revered across the region as well, during the yesteryears of old.

By Lakshmi Sharath | Yahoo Lifestyle Entertainment – Tue 24 Jan, 2012 2:16 PM IST

A roadside temple in Bali

Roadside Temple in Bali, Indonesia © LAKSHMI SHARATH

If you think India has many shrines, think again. In Bali, Indonesia’s Hindu island, there are temples everywhere – in streets, atop mountains, clinging to cliffs, on the seashore, and in the courtyard of every home.

Devotees at the Mother Besakih temple

Balinese Hindus at the Mother Besakih Temple in Bali, Indonesia © LAKSHMI SHARATH

The Mother Besakih temple is one of the most important temples in Bali. It is located atop Mount Agung. It is not just one shrine but a cluster of 20 temples overlooking the villages and the green slopes of the mountain. Balinese believe that the good spirits along with their deities reside here and the shrines resemble houses built for them.

Goa Gajah

Goa Gajah temple in Bali, Indonesia © LAKSHMI SHARATH

Goa, I learned, is pronounced “Guha” as in many Indian languages. It refers to a 1,000-year-old cave excavated here that houses the Hindu trinity of gods and Ganesha, whom the Balinese know as “Gajah” (as in elephant). The 11th century site, called Lwa Gajah, was not discovered until the 1950s and was believed to be a sanctuary of a Buddhist monk. Carved images of the Buddha and smaller shrines and a step-well dot the green landscape here.

Uluwatu

Pura Uluwatu is one of Bali’s most spectacular temples © LAKSHMI SHARATH

Bali’s shrines are often located in the most exotic landscapes. This is Pura Uluwatu right atop the cliff. The scenery is breathtaking as you climb uphill through a small forested area patrolled by boisterous monkeys.

Bali’s royal shrine

Royal shrine in Bali, Indonesia © LAKSHMI SHARATH

Pura Taman Ayun, literally “beautiful garden”, is the shrine of the royalty in Bali. Built in the 17th century, this temple in Mengwi, south Bali, is believed to house the ancestors of the royal dynasty and their family deities.

Puppets galore

Puppets in Bali, Indonesia © LAKSHMI SHARATH

The sounds of performances fill the air as you walk into any of these temples. Wayang or shadow puppetry, the Kecak or fire-dance, and various other local dances like Barong, Legong and Pendet are some of the art forms to experience while you visit these shrines.

Sunset at Tanah Lot

Tanah Lot temple in Bali, Indonesia © LAKSHMI SHARATH

No trip is complete without a glimpse of the spectacular sunset in Tanah Lot temple, a tourist magnet located on a rocky oceanic island. The 15th century shrine, dedicated to the sea spirits, was built under the direction of a priest and is believed to be guarded by snakes.

Lakshmi Sharath is a media professional, traveler, travel-writer, photographer and blogger.

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Posted in Ancient Architecture, Hindu Empire, India Forgotten, Picturesque | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

10 Greatest Unsolved Mysteries

Posted by Admin on March 26, 2012

http://brainz.org/10-greatest-unsolved-mysteries/?utm_source=scribol.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=scribol.com

The last hundred years have borne witness to humankind’s extraordinary technological advancements. Man has walked on the moon, ventured deeper into the oceans than ever before and even uncovered the building blocks of life, DNA. But even with our inexorable progress as a species there are still mysteries and enigmas the solutions to which elude us. Below is a selection of 10 of the most puzzling mysteries in history.

10) The SS Ourang Medan

In June 1947, a chilling SOS message was picked up: “All officers including captain are dead lying in chartroom and bridge. Possibly whole crew dead.” This was followed by some indecipherable Morse code, and one final grisly message… “I die.” Then, silence.

It was picked up by nearby ships and listening posts, who identified the vessel as the Dutch freighter SS Ourang Medan and located it within the Strait of Malacca that separates Indonesia from Malaysia. The nearest merchant ship, The Silver Star, raced to her aid. The Silver Star was soon alongside the Dutch ship and their boarding party found a macabre sight: every member of the crew lay dead, their corpses scattered on the decks. More than this, their eyes were still open and expressions of sheer terror were etched on their features. The Silver Star’s party found the radio operator dead too, his hand still on the Morse sending key, eyes wide open and teeth bared. There were no sign of wounds or injuries on any of the bodies.

The decision was made to tow the mysterious ship back to port, but before they could get underway, smoke began emanating from the decks below. The boarding party hurriedly returned to their ship and barely had time to cut the tow lines before the SS Ourang Medan exploded and swiftly sank.

It has been claimed that clouds of noxious natural gases could have bubbled up from fissures in the seabed and engulfed the ship; even aliens and ghosts have been cited as possible explanations for the Ourang Medan’s macabre and mysterious demise. To this day, the exact fate of her crew remains an impenetrable mystery.

9) The Aluminum Wedge of Aiud

In 1974 (or 1973 depending upon which source you believe) a curious aluminum wedge was discovered on the banks of the Mures River in Transylvania, near the city of Aiud. It was found buried deep beneath the sand alongside two mastodon bones.

Upon examination, the object – which resembled a hammer head – was found to be encased in a one millimeter thick layer of oxide which suggests that it is some 300-400 years old. A second, Swiss investigation confirmed the results of the first examination. Furthermore, as it was found with mastodon remains it could even be as much as 20,000 years old.

Aluminum is abundant in the earth’s crust but it is always combined with other minerals and the wedge predates the technology used to extract it. An aeronautical engineer suggested that the wedge is similar to the foot of landing gear used on spacecraft. The scientific community believes ‘the wedge was made on earth and its purpose is not yet identified’. Unfortunately, the Aluminum Wedge of Aiud is currently locked away in a secret location; however, some photographs of the curious, unexplained object do exist online.

8) Dulce Base

Supposedly, a top secret subterranean complex is carved into the rock below the Archuleta Mesa in Dulce, New Mexico. Claims that the base is a ‘genetics lab’ in which humans and extraterrestrials cooperatively conduct disturbing experiments have been made by various ‘leaked documents’, witness reports and even an ex-employee.

Strange humming sounds that seem to emanate from the earth near the town of Dulce have added to speculations of an underground facility, as have the presence of military helicopters that have been spotted around the area.

An author with the nom de plume of Branton claims to have interviewed former workers at the base who said: “[There] are experiments done on fish, seals, birds and mice that are vastly altered from their original forms. There are multi-armed and multi-legged humans and several cages of humanoid bat-like creatures up to seven feet tall. The aliens have taught the humans a lot about genetics, things both useful and dangerous.” The U.S. government denies the base’s existence, but that doesn’t stop the speculation.

7) BEKs

Chances are you have not heard of BEKs (Black Eyed Kids) yet. Sightings of them are few and far between but via the internet they are growing in number, and the reports describe close encounters that are not only weird, but also frightening.

The stories almost always start with a ring of the doorbell. One, two or more children appear on a ‘victim’s’ doorstep and ask for help: they need to use the toilet, make an urgent phone call or relate another tale of distress. They ask to come in, plead in some cases, but the homeowners never let them in due to an unexplained feeling of terror that overcomes them. Perhaps it is the BEKs’ entirely black eyes that induce the overwhelming horror; perhaps it is because, as one ‘witness’ described, their faces appear as slightly blurry. The mysterious encounters don’t stop there, either: “For a period of three days straight, [the BEKs] kept showing up on my driveway. When the police came they were nowhere in sight. After that, they never showed up on my driveway, but every once in a while, I will see them in the downtown area, like they are following me. They will be behind a tree, I will drive to another section of Sacramento and I would see them again or I will see them on the side of the road as I am driving by and they will stare at me.”

One man did let the children in. They claimed to need to use the toilet and phone, but it was only when they entered into the house that he saw their peculiar eyes and felt the full force of dread. The BEKs moved towards him, saying that ‘they had come to collect him’. He fled the house in terror.

6) The Piri Reis Map

Currently located in the Library of the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, the Piri Reis map is a puzzling enigma. It outlines the coast of western Africa, the eastern coast of South America, and even a section of the northern coast of Antarctica (thought to have been discovered 300 years after Piri Reis’s lifetime). Furthermore, the map shows the coastline without its glacial covering. Geological evidence suggests that Antarctica was last in this ice-less state in 4000 BC. Reis was a famous Turkish admiral whose passion (understandably for a seafarer) was cartography. Taking advantage of his rank and his privileged access to the Imperial Library of Constantinople, his 1513 gazelle skin map was built upon the work of others, with some of his cartographical sources dating back as far as the time of Alexander the Great. The map also seems to detail more about the topographical features of South America than Europeans were thought to have in 1513, such as the Andes.

5) Commandment Rock

An 80 ton boulder on the side of Hidden Mountain in New Mexico bears a puzzling inscription. Carved into the stone’s flat side is what has been interpreted by some to be a version of the Ten Commandments in a form of ‘Paleo-Hebrew’.

Discovered by academia in 1933 by archaeology Professor Frank Hibben, it had been known to locals for decades, and the guide who led Hibben to it said he had known of it since the 1880s – a date which, if genuine, means the rock’s authenticity is likely, as the Paleo-Hebrew script was then unknown. This means it outdates Columbus’s discovery of America and suggests that people from Israel or Phoenicia (who used a similar language) discovered the continent centuries before it was thought possible. Skeptics draw upon punctuation and grammatical ‘errors’ as evidence of it being a fake, while others still doubt this debunking.

4) The Somerton Man

In the early hours of December 1, 1948 a dead body was found lying on Adelaide’s Somerton Beach. The man was judged to be in his early forties and in good physical condition. Curiously, all the labels were missing from his clothing, he had no identification and his dental records did not match any known person.

Even the coroner and Scotland Yard had no luck finding out the man’s identity or cause of death. The mystery deepened when a piece of paper with the printed words “Tamam Shud” on it was discovered in a secret pocket concealed within the dead man’s trousers. The scrap of paper was traced to a rare edition of a book entitled The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, the back of which contained some kind of a code. Numerous unsuccessful attempts by amateurs and professional codebreakers to crack it have failed. The identity of the deceased man and even the cause of death remain unsolved to this day. The case was never closed by the South Australian Major Crime Task Force and many individuals continue to work on it.

3) Gef the Talking Mongoose

Also referred to as the Dalby Spook, Gef was said to be a creature resembling a mongoose. It was reported to live with the Irving family in their farmhouse near the hamlet of Dalby on the Isle of Man. Gef’s true identification remains shrouded in mystery. It has been interpreted as (among other things) a poltergeist, a cryptid and of course, a hoax.

In September 1931, the Irvings started hearing strange scratching noises coming from their farmhouse’s attic. Soon the scratching became more like a baby ‘gurgling’. The gurgling then evolved to ‘resemble a baby learning to talk and shortly after to mimic certain words that the ‘animal’ seemingly picked up from the Irving family’. If that wasn’t weird enough it described itself as a “an extra, extra clever mongoose,” an “earthbound spirit” and “a ghost in the form of a weasel.” It could even sing.

The case was investigated by Harry Price, but aside from a few grainy photographs of a strange animal roaming the fields outside the house, nothing substantial was ever recorded.

2) The Black Mausoleum – Tomb of ‘Bluidy’ MacKenzie

Edinburgh is a ghost hunter’s paradise. It seems that there is barely a nook or cranny of the Scottish capital that doesn’t lay claim to spooky goings-on of one kind or another, and there is one hot spot in particular that boasts inexplicable activity which is unusually well-documented.

George MacKenzie (1638–1691), Lord Advocate of Scotland, was a merciless persecutor of the Presbyterian Covenanters in life, and now it seems that he (or something else) has returned from parts unknown to take up residence in his tomb and continue his nefarious deeds.

In 1998, a vagrant broke into his tomb and fell through a rotten lower floor into a plague pit filled with skeletons. Since then, there have been over 450 reports of strange incidents, from people having lost consciousness to inexplicable fires breaking out and an unusually high number of dead animals having been found around the tomb. Visitors have had their fingers broken, hair pulled and been punched or kicked by an invisible assailant. Unexplained bruises, scratches and burns, skin gouges, nausea and numbness are all commonly reported.

The physical signs of attack often go unnoticed until people arrive home and relax or return to their hotels for the night. Witnesses have even reported activity following them home. Whatever lurks within the Black Mausoleum, it is certainly active.

1) DB Cooper

The solution to one of the greatest mysteries of all time still eludes America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation. On the November 24, 1971, a man in his mid forties and giving the name Dan Cooper (he is also known as DB Cooper due to a ‘press miscommunication’) hijacked a Boeing 727 aircraft and demanded $200,000 in ransom and two parachutes. His claim of having a bomb in his briefcase was verified by an air stewardess.

Cooper was given the ransom money at the Seattle-Tacoma Airport. He allowed passengers and some members of the flight crew to leave before ordering the plane to be flown to Mexico.

Soon after the plane took off, Cooper then opened the rear airstairs and parachuted into the pitch black, rain-lashed night. A five month manhunt – said to the most extensive and expensive of its kind – was immediately launched. Despite $5,880 of the ransom being discovered by a boy in 1980, no other trace of the hijacker was ever found.

In 2007, the F.B.I. reopened the case, saying that it does not believe Cooper survived the jump, but expressed an interest in ascertaining his identity, saying: “Would we still like to get our man? Absolutely.”

Despite there being hundreds of leads since 1971 (including many deathbed confessions), Cooper’s identity remains a mystery and the world’s only unsolved skyjacking case.

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The beautiful temples of Bali

Posted by Admin on January 28, 2012

http://in.lifestyle.yahoo.com/photos–the-beautiful-temples-of-bali.html?page=all

The Indonesian island of Bali is home to the majority of the country’s Hindus. Balinese Hinduism is characterized by the worship of the supreme god Acintya, along with the trinity in Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The art and ritual of the Balinese Hindus trace back to influences from the 4th century when Hinduism reached the island’s shores. Balinese temples are ornate, beautiful and situated in visually stunning locales. LAKSHMI SHARATH traipses through Bali and returns with these breathtaking picture postcards.

By Lakshmi Sharath | Yahoo Lifestyle Entertainment – Tue 24 Jan, 2012 2:16 PM IST

A roadside temple in Bali
Roadside Temple in Bali, Indonesia © LAKSHMI SHARATH
If you think India has many shrines, think again. In Bali, Indonesia’s Hindu island, there are temples everywhere – in streets, atop mountains, clinging to cliffs, on the seashore, and in the courtyard of every home.

Devotees at the Mother Besakih temple
Balinese Hindus at the Mother Besakih Temple in Bali, Indonesia © LAKSHMI SHARATH

The Mother Besakih temple is one of the most important temples in Bali. It is located atop Mount Agung. It is not just one shrine but a cluster of 20 temples overlooking the villages and the green slopes of the mountain. Balinese believe that the good spirits along with their deities reside here and the shrines resemble houses built for them.

Goa Gajah
Goa Gajah temple in Bali, Indonesia © LAKSHMI SHARATH

Goa, I learned, is pronounced “Guha” as in many Indian languages. It refers to a 1,000-year-old cave excavated here that houses the Hindu trinity of gods and Ganesha, whom the Balinese know as “Gajah” (as in elephant). The 11th century site, called Lwa Gajah, was not discovered until the 1950s and was believed to be a sanctuary of a Buddhist monk. Carved images of the Buddha and smaller shrines and a step-well dot the green landscape here.

Uluwatu
Pura Uluwatu is one of Bali’s most spectacular temples © LAKSHMI SHARATH

Bali’s shrines are often located in the most exotic landscapes. This is Pura Uluwatu right atop the cliff. The scenery is breathtaking as you climb uphill through a small forested area patrolled by boisterous monkeys.

Bali’s royal shrine
Royal shrine in Bali, Indonesia © LAKSHMI SHARATH

Pura Taman Ayun, literally “beautiful garden”, is the shrine of the royalty in Bali. Built in the 17th century, this temple in Mengwi, south Bali, is believed to house the ancestors of the royal dynasty and their family deities.

Puppets galore
Puppets in Bali, Indonesia © LAKSHMI SHARATH

The sounds of performances fill the air as you walk into any of these temples. Wayang or shadow puppetry, the Kecak or fire-dance, and various other local dances like Barong, Legong and Pendet are some of the art forms to experience while you visit these shrines.

Sunset at Tanah Lot
Tanah Lot temple in Bali, Indonesia © LAKSHMI SHARATH

No trip is complete without a glimpse of the spectacular sunset in Tanah Lot temple, a tourist magnet located on a rocky oceanic island. The 15th century shrine, dedicated to the sea spirits, was built under the direction of a priest and is believed to be guarded by snakes.

Lakshmi Sharath is a media professional, traveler, travel-writer, photographer and blogger.

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Special Report: How Indonesia crippled its own climate change

Posted by Admin on August 16, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/special-report-indonesia-crippled-own-climate-change-065209503.html

By David Fogarty | Reuters – 57 mins ago

Birute Mary Galdikas, the founder of Orangutan Foundation International (OFI), visits a feeding station at OFI's orangutan care and quarantine centre in Pangkalan Bun in the province of Central Kalimantan in this undated handout photo courtesy of InfiniteEARTH.

Birute Mary Galdikas, the founder of Orangutan Foundation International (OFI), visits a feeding station at OFI's orangutan care and quarantine centre in Pangkalan Bun in the province of Central Kalimantan in this undated handout photo courtesy of InfiniteEARTH. REUTERS/InfiniteEARTH/Handout

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – In July 2010, U.S. investor Todd Lemons and Russian energy giant Gazprom believed they were just weeks from winning final approval for a landmark forest preservation project in Indonesia.

A year later, the project is close to collapse, a casualty of labyrinthine Indonesian bureaucracy, opaque laws and a secretive palm oil company.

The Rimba Raya project, on the island of Borneo, is part of a United Nations-backed scheme designed to reward poorer nations that protect their carbon-rich jungles.

Deep peat in some of Indonesia’s rainforests stores billions of tonnes of carbon so preserving those forests is regarded as crucial in the fight against climate change.

By putting a value on the carbon, the 90,000-hectare (225,000 acre) project would help prove that investors can turn a profit from the world’s jungles in ways that do not involve cutting them down.

After three years of work, more than $2 million in development costs, and what seemed like the green light from Jakarta, the project is proof that saving the world’s tropical rainforests will be far more complicated than simply setting up a framework to allow market forces to function.

A Reuters investigation into the case also shows the forestry ministry is highly skeptical about a market for forest carbon credits, placing it at odds with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who supports pay-and-preserve investments to fight climate change.

Hong Kong-based Lemons, 47, a veteran of environmentally sustainable, and profitable, projects, discovered just how frustrating the ministry can be to projects such as his.

“Success was literally two months around the corner,” he said. “We went through — if there are 12 steps, we went through the first 11 on time over a 2-year period. We had some glitches, but by and large we went through the rather lengthy and complicated process in the time expected.”

That’s when the forestry ministry decided to slash the project’s area in half, making it unviable, and handing a large chunk of forested deep peatland to a palm oil company for development.

The case is a stark reminder to Norway’s government, the world’s top donor to projects to protect tropical forests, on just how tough it will be to preserve Indonesia’s rainforests under its $1 billion climate deal with Jakarta.

UNLIMITED CORRUPTION

The dispute has turned a spotlight on Indonesia’s forestry ministry, which earns $15 billion a year in land permit fees from investors. Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) said last month it will investigate the granting of forest permits and plans to crack down on corruption in the resources sector.

“It’s a source of unlimited corruption,” said Chandra M. Hamzah, deputy chairman at the KPK.

Indonesia Corruption Watch, a private watchdog, says illegal logging and violations in issuing forest use permits are rampant. It estimates ill-gotten gains total about 20 trillion rupiah ($2.3 billion) each year.

A forest ministry official connected with the U.N.-backed forest carbon offset scheme was sentenced in April to three years in prison for accepting a $10,000 bribe to ensure an Indonesian company won a procurement tender.

Wandojo Siswanto was one of the negotiators for Indonesia’s delegation at the 2009 U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen, despite being a bribery suspect. His case has highlighted concerns about the capacity of the forestry ministry to manage forest-carbon projects.

The forestry sector has a long history of mismanagement and graft. Former trade and industry minister Bob Hasan, a timber czar during the Suharto years, was fined 50 billion rupiah ($7 million) for ordering the burning of forests in Sumatra and then imprisoned in a separate case of forestry fraud after Suharto was toppled from power in 1998.

In an interview in Jakarta, senior forestry ministry officials denied any wrongdoing in the Rimba Raya case and criticized the project’s backers for a deal they made with Russia’s Gazprom, the world’s largest gas producer, to market the project’s carbon credits.

Internal forestry ministry documents that Reuters obtained show how the ministry reversed its support for the project after a new minister came in, and a large chunk of the project’s land was turned over to a palm oil firm.

The case illustrates how growing demand for land, bureaucratic hurdles and powerful vested interests are major obstacles to conservation projects in Indonesia and elsewhere in the developing world.

That makes it hard for these projects to compete and navigate through multiple layers of government with the potential for interference and delay.

“We have systematically not been able to demonstrate that we can complete the loop to turn projects into dollar investments,” said Andrew Wardell, program director, forests and governance, at the Center for International Forestry Research in Indonesia.

“Which is why the palm oil industry is winning hands down every time.”

SHOWCASE PROJECT

The Rimba Raya project was meant to save a large area of carbon-rich peat swamp forest in Central Kalimantan province and showcase Jakarta’s efforts to fight climate change.

Much of the area is dense forest that lies atop oozy black peat flooded by tea-colored water. Dozens of threatened or endangered species such as orangutans, proboscis monkeys, otter civets and Borneo bay cats live in the area, which is adjacent to a national park.

Rimba Raya was designed to be part of the U.N’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) program. The idea is simple: every tonne of carbon locked away in the peat and soaked up by the trees would earn a steady flow of carbon credits.

Profit from the sale of those credits would go to project investors and partners, local communities and the Indonesian government. That would allow the project to pay its way and compete with palm oil farmers and loggers who might otherwise destroy it.

Rich countries and big companies can buy the credits to offset their emissions.

By preserving a large area of peat swamp forest, Rimba Raya was projected to cut carbon emissions by nearly 100 million tonnes over its 30-year life, which would translate into total saleable credits of about $500 million, Gazprom says.

It would also be a sanctuary for orphaned or rehabilitated orangutans from elsewhere in Borneo. Rimba Raya teamed up with the founder of Orangutan Foundation International, Birute Mary Galdikas, in which OFI would receive a steady income from annual carbon credit sales.

It was the sort of project President Yudhoyono and Norway have pledged to support. Yudhoyono has put forests — Indonesia is home to the world’s third-largest forest lands — at the center of a pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26 percent by 2020.

He tasked a senior adviser to press for reforms to make REDD projects easier and for greater transparency at the forestry ministry.

GOLD STANDARD

Rimba Raya was poised for success. It got backing from the Clinton Foundation’s Climate Initiative, which helped pay for some of the early costs. Gazprom invested more than $1 million.

It was the first in the world to meet stringent REDD project rules under the Washington-based Voluntary Carbon Standard, an industry-respected body that issues carbon credits. Rimba Raya was also the first to earn a triple-gold rating under the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance, a separate verifier.

Companies including German insurer Allianz and Japanese telecoms giant NTT pledged to buy credits from the project if it gets its license.

In December 2009, the forestry ministry tentatively named the now Indonesian-registered company PT Rimba Raya Conservation the license holder for nearly 90,000 ha, contingent on it passing an environmental impact assessment. It did so a few months later.

The ownership of PT Rimba Raya Conservation is split 70 percent foreign and 30 percent Indonesian, with Lemons and business partner Jim Procanik holding small stakes.

Lemons is CEO of Hong Kong-based firm InfiniteEARTH, which is the developer and manager of the Rimba Raya project as well as investment fund-raiser. Procanik, 44, is the managing director.

In June last year, Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan asked for a map that would set the final boundary of the project, according to a copy of the instruction seen by Reuters. This mandatory step normally takes a few weeks. Once the map is issued, a project is eligible for a license to operate.

But by September last year it was clear something was wrong, according to Lemons. Despite repeated promises by ministry officials, the final map had not been issued. No explanations were given.

“No one has ever said, ‘No’. So that’s exhausting,” said Lemons.

What followed instead was a series of steps by the forestry ministry that have resulted in the project being undermined.

A ministry review focused on conflicting claims to the land by several companies belonging to palm oil firm, PT Best Group.

PT Best, which is run by Indonesian brothers Winarto and Winarno Tjajadi, had long coveted the peat land within the area the forestry ministry set aside for the Rimba Raya project.

On December 31, 2010, PT Best was granted 6,500 ha of peat swamp land for palm oil development, next to a smaller parcel of deep peat land granted a year earlier — part of PT Best’s broader plan to connect its palm oil plantations in the north with a port on the coast nearby. The land granted last December was part of the original area set aside for Rimba Raya.

The Tjajadi brothers declined several requests by Reuters to comment.

The December allocation to PT Best came despite assurances from Forestry Minister Hasan that he would not allow deep peatlands to be converted for agriculture.

The allocation also came a day before a two-year moratorium on issuing licenses to clear primary forests and peat lands was due to start on January 1 this year. The moratorium is a key part of the climate deal with Norway.

After months of delay, the forestry ministry finally ruled that PT Rimba Raya was only eligible for 46,000 ha, a decision that cut out much of the peatlands covering nearly half the original project area.

OMBUDSMAN INVESTIGATES

The case has now been brought before the office of the Indonesian government’s Ombudsman. In an interview, senior Ombudsman Dominikus Fernandes told Reuters he believed the forestry ministry should issue the license to Rimba Raya.

“If Rimba Raya has already fulfilled the criteria, there should not be a delay in issuing the license,” he said.

“This is a model project in Indonesia that should be prioritized. If we don’t give an example on the assurance of investing in Indonesia, that’s not a good thing.”

Officials from the forestry ministry, in a lengthy interview with Reuters, said the area was given legally for palm oil development because PT Best had claims to the land dating back to 2005.

Secretary-General of the ministry Hadi Daryanto stressed the peatland areas originally granted to Rimba Raya were on a type of forest called convertible production forest, which can be used for agriculture but not REDD projects. Handing that nearly 40,000 ha to Rimba Raya would be against the law, he said.

Yet in 2009, the ministry was ordered to make the title switch for this same area of peatland so it could be used for a REDD project. The instruction to immediately make the switch, a bureaucratic formality, was never acted on.

In the Oct 2009 decree seen by Reuters, former Forestry Minister H.M.S. Kaban issued the order as part of a broader instruction setting aside the nearly 90,000 ha for ecosystem restoration projects. Kaban left office soon after.

Indonesian law also bans any clearing of peat lands more than 3 meters deep. An assessment of the Rimba Raya area by a peat expert hired by InfiniteEARTH showed the peat is 3 to 7 meters deep, so in theory was out of bounds for PT Best to clear for agriculture.

For Lemons, 47, the mood has switched from exhilaration to bitter disappointment. “We’ve been here every day pushing like hell from every angle,” he said.

Procanik says the disappointment is personal. “Todd and I have both invested what savings we had for our kids’ college education in this project,” he said.

Gazprom is also upset.

In a letter dated June 16 to the Indonesian government, the Russian firm criticized the ministry’s failure to issue the license for Rimba Raya and threatened to abandon clean-energy projects in Indonesia estimated to be worth more than $100 million in foreign investment. The government has yet to respond.

CARBON DREAMS?

Secretary-General Daryanto and Iman Santoso, Director-General for forestry business management, said another major problem was InfiniteEARTH’s deal with Gazprom, which was made in the absence of any license.

“We didn’t know about the contract with Gazprom. They had no legal right to make the contract,” Daryanto told Reuters.

Santoso described it as the project’s “fatal mistake.”

Daryanto also questioned whether REDD would ever work and whether there was any global appetite for carbon credits the program generates, a view at odds with other parts of the Indonesian government, which has been actively supporting REDD projects.

“Who will pay for the dream of Rimba Raya? Who will pay? Nobody, sir!” Daryanto told Reuters during an interview in the heavily forested ministry compound near central Jakarta.

Lemons said the Gazprom deal was explained in person during a presentation of a 300-page technical proposal submitted to the ministry to prove the project would be financially viable. Daryanto was among a ministry panel that approved the proposal.

“One of their biggest concerns was whether REDD could deliver the same revenues to the state as other land-use permits such as palm oil, logging, mining. We were required to show contracts that demonstrated we could pay the fees and annual royalties,” he said.

Gazprom, designated as the sole marketer of carbon credits from Rimba Raya, said it had already agreed long-term sales contracts with buyers at between 7 and 8 euros ($10 to $11.40) per tonne — contingent on the license being issued.

“We’ve sold to four or five companies around that price,” said Dan Barry, Gazprom Marketing & Trading’s London-based global director of clean energy.

Gazprom became involved, he said, because it was a project that looked to have official support. The Russian company agreed to a financing mechanism that ensured the project’s viability for 30 years, regardless of the price level of carbon markets.

Those markets, centered on the European and U.N. carbon trading programs, were valued at $142 billion in 2010, the World Bank says. National carbon trading schemes are planned for Australia and South Korea, while California is planning a state-based scheme from 2013. New Zealand’s carbon market started in 2008.

“If you ever want a successful REDD scheme, you are going to have to have a process that people believe in,” Barry said.

“The Ministry of Forestry ought to be doing everything it can to support a program that benefits forestry as opposed to favor a program that’s there to cut it down and turn it into palm oil.”

“AHEAD OF ITS TIME”

Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, the head of the REDD task force in Indonesia who is also in charge of the president’s government reforms unit, said the Rimba Raya case highlighted deep flaws in the bureaucracy and the need for sweeping reforms to underpin the 40 other REDD projects in Indonesia.

“The core concern is the trust in government statements of readiness, and responsibility,” he told Reuters in an email. “Even with the best of intentions, the unsynchronous action of the central government’s ministry and the district government’s action is not conducive for investment, especially in this new kind of venture.

“I can surmise that the case of Rimba Raya is a case of a business idea that is ahead of its time. The government infrastructure is insufficiently ready for it.”

Legal action was one solution to this case, he added.

That is a path Lemons and Procanik may eventually take but for now they have proposed a land swap deal with PT Best in which the firm gives PT Rimba Raya 9,000 ha of peat land in return for a similar sized piece of non-peat land held by PT Rimba Raya in the north of the project near other PT Best landholdings.

PT Best rejected an earlier offer by Rimba Raya of 9 percent of the credits from the project, Lemons said.

Based on recent satellite images, PT Best has yet to develop the disputed 9,000 ha area.

The delays mean it is too late for Rimba Raya to become the world’s first project to issue REDD credits. That accolade has since gone to a Kenyan project.

“Our whole point here is to show host countries that REDD can pay its way,” said Lemons. “And if it can’t pay its way then we haven’t proven anything.”

In a sign a resolution could still be possible, Ombudsman Fernandes, Forestry Minister Hasan and PT Rimba Raya are scheduled to meet on Aug 19.

(Additional reporting by Olive Rondonuwu and Yayat Supriatna in Jakarta and Harry Suhartono in Singapore; Editing by Simon Webb, Simon Robinson and Bill Tarrant)

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Volcano erupts in central Indonesia

Posted by Admin on July 25, 2011

http://in.news.yahoo.com/photos/volcano-erupts-in-central-indonesia-1310706494-slideshow/indonesia-volcano-150711-04-photo.html

An Indonesian volcano spit lava and smoke thousands of feet into the air early Friday, sending panicked residents fleeing down its slopes.

indonesia-volcano-150711-04

Mount Lokon spews hot lava and volcanic ash during an eruption in Tomohon in Indonesia‘s North Sulawesi province July 14, 2011. Indonesia’s Mount Lokon erupted to spew hot lava and volcanic ash as high as 1,500 metres (5,000 feet) in the north of Sulawesi island, prompting panicked residents to flee the agricultural area, a government official said on Friday. REUTERS/Stringer

Map locates Mount Lokon in Indonesia, which erupted early Friday, forcing evacuations

  1. Map locates Mount Lokon in Indonesia, which erupted early Friday, forcing evacuation

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indonesia-volcano-150711-05

The Lokon volcano erupts near Tomohon on July 15, 2011. The Indonesian volcano erupted late July 14, spewing rocks, lava and ash hundreds of metres into the air, an official said, three days after its alert status was raised to the highest level. There has been a significant rise in volcanic activity at Mount Lokon on Sulawesi Island since June 9, prompting hundreds of people to evacuate the area. AFP PHOTO / TENGKU

indonesia-volcano-150711-06

This picture taken on July 13, 2011 shows the Lokon volcano spewing smokes in Tomohon, North Sulawesi. Indonesia on July 11 said it would evacuate hundreds of people living near Mount Lokon on Sulawesi island after raising the volcano’s alert status to the highest level. AFP PHOTO / GLEN RARUNG

indonesia-volcano-150711-02

Mount Lokon spews volcanic smoke in Tomohon, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, Tuesday, July 12, 2011. Officials raised the alert for the Indonesian volcano with history of violent explosions to its highest level Monday, following a series of eruptions over the weekend. (AP Photo/Grace Wakary)

indonesia-volcano-150711-07

The glow of lava from Mount Lokon’s eruption is seen against the night sky as seen from Manado, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, early Friday, July 15, 2011. The volcano spit lava and smoke thousands of feet into the air early Friday, sending panicked residents fleeing down its slopes. There were no immediate reports of casualties. (AP Photo)

indonesia-volcano-150711-01

Mount Lokon spews volcanic smoke in Tomohon, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, Tuesday, July 12, 2011. Officials raised the alert for the Indonesian volcano with history of violent explosions to its highest level Monday, following a series of eruptions over the weekend. (AP Photo/Grace Wakary)

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One man’s crusade to stop toxic sludge dumping in Indonesia

Posted by Admin on April 12, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20110411/wl_csm/376094;_ylt=Ato0wIq.eWDvtaAdbAu8xilvaA8F;_ylu=X3oDMTJkZG5hdHMwBGFzc2V0A2NzbS8yMDExMDQxMS8zNzYwOTQEcG9zAzI3BHNlYwN5bl9hcnRpY2xlX3N1bW1hcnlfbGlzdARzbGsDb25lbWFuMzlzY3J1

By Simon Montlake Simon Montlake Mon Apr 11, 2:57 pm ET

Gresik, Indonesia – Fish net in hand, Prigi Arisandi kicks off his sandals and wades into a shallow stream. Behind him a gaggle of uniformed high school students bend to their task: identifying the plants and bugs scooped from the waterway. Water samples are decanted into ice-cube trays and the contents are matched with textbook drawings.

For Mr. Prigi, an environmental activist, these weekly classes are another way to tackle river pollution, which has afflicted vital waterways in Java, Indonesia’s most densely populated island. He wants to instill in his students the need to protect the biodiversity of the 13-mile Surabaya River where he once played as a child, before factories moved in and the waters ran black.

The stream is clear and healthy. The nearby fields are planted with sugar cane. But Prigi worries that factories and houses will soon replace the fields and pose a threat to the rivers. So he’s teaching the kids to understand and cherish their environment.

“More factories and houses will come here. I want [the children] to be prepared,” he says.

Prigi’s efforts to check the dumping of toxic waste have become a personal crusade. “He never stops thinking about the river,” says Daru Setyorini, his wife and fellow activist, whom he met while studying biology at university.

In recognition of these efforts, Prigi is a recipient of the 2011 Goldman Environmental Prize, announced Monday, April 11, in San Francisco. The award is worth $150,000 and is given to six worldwide recipients in various categories.

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Together with Ms. Daru, with whom he has three children, Prigi runs Ecoton, an nongovernmental organization with a staff of nine people and an annual budget of around $57,000. The award represents a boost for its campaign against river pollution, which has led it to sue the provincial government in 2007 for failing to enforce water-quality regulations. In a landmark ruling, the court ordered the government to set maximum limits for toxic discharges by factories into the Surabaya River.

The government now monitors the discharges using river boat patrols. And the water quality has improved, according to official data. But Prigi says the government should do more.

Prigi plans to use part of his prize money to build a research and ecotourism site near the river’s pristine source, where it is known as the Brantas River. He worries that unchecked upstream development could pollute the Brantas and other waterways. His plan is to work with local villages to develop eco-friendly alternatives that generate income.

“We are rich in biodiversity, but we don’t know it,” he says.

Firsthand impact of rapid industrialization

Growing up in Gresik, outside the port city of Surabaya, Prigi saw firsthand the impact of rapid industrialization. As a student he led protests against factories that dumped untreated waste into the river. His passion for environmental causes and field research left little time for study, but with Daru’s help he graduated and plunged into full-time activism.

He began running river tours for young people and encouraging schools to add environmental programs. Some looked askance at the bespectacled activist with his wildlife posters. “They thought I was a salesman. I said, no, I want to give this to you,” he laughs.

At the same time, Prigi tried to goad local authorities into tackling water pollution. After the fall of dictator Suharto in 1998, Indonesia’s media found its voice and Prigi became adept at courting publicity for his causes. But effluents from factories and houses continued to flow into the Surabaya River, which provides drinking water for the city’s 3 million residents.

“It was black, like coffee,” says Daru.

In October 2007, it got worse. Prigi got reports of dead fish floating in the river and set off to find the cause. His investigation led him to a state-owned sugar factory that had tried to cover up a leak in its treatment plant. After Prigi went to the local media with his findings, the factory admitted its error and agreed to upgrade its plant, a legacy of Dutch colonial rule.

Koesriharto, a factory official, says the new equipment has cut the amount of effluent discharged into the river. “We want to improve our waste-water treatment with new technology,” he says.

Indonesia passed a new environmental law in 2009 that stiffens penalties for polluters, including criminal charges for company owners. But Prigi knows that some factory bosses will shrug off the risk of prosecution. That’s why he keeps putting pressure on provincial authorities to monitor water quality and keep tabs on industrial zones.

Ongoing efforts

Factories aren’t the only culprits. On a recent overcast morning, Prigi paddles his rubber boat past a swath of houses that back onto the river. Garbage floats past: plastic bags, bottles, tree branches, flip-flops, and lighters. Pipes protrude from brick outhouses, flushing waste directly into the river. Yet women still bend to wash clothes in the murky water.

After years of castigating factories for their toxic discharge, Prigi has begun to focus on the problem posed by household waste. Thousands of houses line the riverbank and there is little awareness of the health risks. “People don’t care about the river. They don’t know that the river [supplies] our drinking water,” he says.

As he scans the riverbanks, Daru scoops up water samples to test on her hand-held equipment. She shows the results to Prigi, who suspects that an upstream sluice gate has been opened, sending a cascade of waste into the river. He pulls out his mobile phone and calls the river regulatory agency, ready to do battle again.

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Indonesia volcano shoots new blast; 21 more rumble!

Posted by Admin on November 2, 2010

Reuters – Mount Merapi volcano spews smoke as seen from Deles village in Klaten, near the ancient city of Yogyakarta, …

MOUNT MERAPI, Indonesia – Deafening explosions of hot gas rattled evacuees miles (kilometers) from an Indonesian volcano Monday, the latest eruption in a deadly week. The country reported increased rumblings at 21 other active mountains, raising questions about what’s causing the uptick along some of the world’s most prolific fault lines.

No new casualties were reported in Mount Merapi’s new blast, which came as Indonesia also struggles to respond to an earthquake-generated tsunami that devastated a remote chain of islands. The two disasters unfolding on opposite ends of country have killed nearly 500 people and strained the government’s emergency response network. In both events, the military has been called in to help.

Merapi has killed 38 people since it started erupting a week ago. Monitoring officials have also raised alert levels at some of the 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia, with two under watch for possible eruption within two weeks and 19 showing increased activity — more than double the usual number on the watch list, an official said.

Indonesia, a vast archipelago of 235 million people, is prone to earthquakes and volcanos because it sits along the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” a horseshoe-shaped string of faults that lines the western and eastern Pacific. Scientists could not say for certain what was causing the increased volcanic activity, though two theorized the earth’s tectonic plates could be realigning and one noted growing evidence that volcanos can affect one other.

About 69,000 villagers have been evacuated from the area around Merapi’s once-fertile slopes — now blanketed by gray ash — in central Java, 250 miles (400 kilometers) east of Jakarta, the capital.

Booming explosions sounded during Monday’s eruption, which shot massive clouds from the glowing cauldron and sent ash cascading nearly four miles (six kilometers) down the southeastern slopes, said Subrandrio, an official in charge of monitoring Merapi’s activity.

Even in the crowded government camps, miles (kilometers) away from the mountain, the sound of the explosions sent evacuees scurrying for shelter.

More than 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) to the west, meanwhile, a C-130 transport plane, six helicopters and four motorized boats were ferrying aid to the most distant corners of the Mentawai Islands, where last week’s tsunami destroyed hundreds of homes, schools, churches and mosques. The tsunami death toll stood at 431 Monday, the National Disaster Management Agency said on its website.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said relief efforts must be sped up, expressing dismay that it took days for aid to reach the isolated islands, though he acknowledged that violent storms were largely to blame.

Last week’s killer wave was triggered a 7.7-magnitude earthquake along the same fault that caused the 2004 temblor and tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries. The fault line, which runs the length of the west coast of Sumatra island, is the meeting point of the two of the Earth’s dozen major plates, which have been pushing against and under each other for millions of years, causing huge stresses to build up.

Both earthquakes and volcanos can result from the release of these stresses. As plates slide against or under each other, molten rock can break the surface via a volcano or the energy can be released in an earthquake.

The government has raised alert levels of 21 other volcanos to the second- and third- highest levels in the last two months because they have shown an increase in activity, said Syamsul Rizal, a state volcanologist, said Monday. Many of those are already rumbling and belching out heavy black ash.

Indonesia has several volcanos smoldering at any given time, but another government volcanologist, Gede Swantika, said that normally only five to 10 would be at the third-highest alert level — which indicates an increase in seismic activity and visible changes in the crater. It is rare for any to be at second-highest — which signifies an eruption is possible within two weeks.

He said monitors noticed more volcanos were exhibiting seismic activity starting Sept. 2.

Geophysicist Pall Einarsson of the University of Iceland said that such an increase could be an indication that some of the volcanos — if any are very close — could be affecting one another. He said this idea is a new one for volcanologists, but they are increasingly seeing evidence of interplay between neighboring mountains.

Geologist Brent McInnes said as he hadn’t seen the raw data but would find such a rash of volcanic activity significant.

“If it’s true that there are over 20 volcanos demonstrating increased levels of seismic activity, then that is something we should pay attention to,” said McInnes, a professor at Australia’s Curtin University who has done extensive volcanic research in Indonesia.

He said such an increase could indicate “a major plate restructuring” — a major shift in the plates’ position, rather than simply the usual jostling. “That would be significant.”

But seismologists also caution that while eruption patterns can be studied, neither earthquakes nor volcanos can be predicted with any precision.

“My theory is that it is just a normal, random fluctuation of volcanic activity,” said John Ebel, professor of geophysics at Boston University.

___

Associated Press writers Thomas Wagner in London, Achmad Ibrahim in the Mentawai islands and Kay Johnson, Niniek Karmini, Irwan Firdaus, Ali Kotarumalos and Kristen Gelineau in Jakarta contributed to this report.

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Tsunami, volcano eruption strike Indonesia

Posted by Admin on October 26, 2010

PADANG, Indonesia – Rescuers battled rough seas Tuesday to reach remote Indonesian islands pounded by a 10-foot tsunami that swept away homes, killing at least 113 people. Scores more were missing and information was only beginning to trickle in from the sparsely populated surfing destination, so casualties were expected to rise.

The fault that ruptured Monday on Sumatra island’s coast also caused the 2004 quake and monster Indian Ocean tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries.

Though hundreds of disaster officials were unable to get to many of the villages on the Mentawai islands — reachable only by a 12-hour boat ride — they were preparing for the worst.

“We have 200 body bags on the way, just in case,” said Mujiharto, who heads the Health Ministry’s crisis center, shortly before announcing a five-fold increase in the death toll.

Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago, is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity due to its location on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire — a series of fault lines stretching from the Western Hemisphere through Japan and Southeast Asia.

The country’s most volatile volcano, Mount Merapi, 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) to the east, started to erupt at dusk Tuesday as scientists warned that pressure building beneath its lava dome could trigger one of the most powerful blasts in years.

The 7.7-magnitude quake that struck late Monday just 13 miles (20 kilometers) beneath the ocean floor was followed by at least 14 aftershocks, the largest measuring 6.2, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Many panicked residents fled to high ground and were too afraid to return home.

That could account in part for the more than 500 people still missing, said Hendri Dori, a local parliamentarian who was overseeing a fact-finding missing. “We’re trying to stay hopeful,” he said.

Hundreds of wooden and bamboo homes were washed away on the island of Pagai, with water flooding crops and roads up to 600 yards (meters) inland. In Muntei Baru, a village on Silabu island, 80 percent of the houses were badly damaged.

Those and other islets hit were part of the Mentawai island chain, a popular and laid-back surfing spot 175 miles (280 kilometers) from Sumatra.

A group of Australians said they were hanging out on the back deck of their chartered surfing vessel, anchored in a bay, when the temblor hit just before 10 p.m. It generated a wave that caused them to smash into a neighboring boat, and before they knew it, a fire was ripping through their cabin.

“We threw whatever we could that floated — surfboards, fenders — then we jumped into the water,” Rick Hallet told Australia’s Nine Network. “Fortunately, most of us had something to hold on to … and we just washed in the wetlands, and scrambled up the highest trees that we could possibly find and sat up there for an hour and a half.”

Ade Edward, a disaster management agency official, said crews from several ships were still unaccounted for in the Indian Ocean.

The quake also jolted towns along Sumatra’s western coast — including Padang, which last year was hit by a deadly 7.6-magnitude tremor that killed more than 700. Mosques blared tsunami warnings over their loudspeakers.

“Everyone was running out of their houses,” said Sofyan Alawi, adding that the roads leading to surrounding hills were quickly jammed with thousands of cars and motorcycles.

“We kept looking back to see if a wave was coming,” said 28-year-old resident Ade Syahputra.

___

Associated Press writers Niniek Karmini and Irwan Firdaus contributed to this report.

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Indonesian volcano erupts, 20 injured by hot ash

Posted by Admin on October 26, 2010

A villager watches Mount Merapi in Kaliadem, ...

By SLAMET RIYADI, Associated Press – 35 mins ago

MOUNT MERAPI, Indonesia – Indonesia’s most volatile volcano erupted Tuesday after scientists warned that pressure building beneath its dome could trigger the most powerful explosion in years. A 2-month-old baby reportedly died as panicked villagers fled the area.

Smoke poured out of Mount Merapi, obscuring its cone, according to footage from the private station, MetroTV. Up to 20 people were injured by the hot ash spewing from volcano, said an AP reporter who saw them being taken away for treatment. One burn victim’s skin was coated in the gray powder, which also blanketed vehicles in the area.

Some 11,400 villagers who live on the 9,737-foot (2,968-meter-) high mountain were urged to evacuate, but only those within four miles (seven kilometers) of the crater were forced by authorities to do so. Most of those who fled were the elderly and children. Some adults said they decided to stay to tend to homes and farms on the fertile slopes.

There are fears that the current activity could foreshadow a much more destructive explosion in the coming weeks or months, though it is possible, too, that the volcano will settle back down after a slow, long period of letting off steam.

As they contended with the volcano, Indonesian officials were also trying to assess the impact of Monday’s 7.7-magnitude earthquake off the coast of Sumatra, about 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) from Merapi. The temblor caused a tsunami that left hundreds dead or missing on a string of remote islands.

MetroTV reported that the baby died when a mother ran in panic after the eruption started. Its report cited a local doctor and showed the mother weeping as the baby was covered with a white blanket at a hospital. The report did not make clear if it was a boy or girl.

Subandriyo, the chief vulcanologist in the area, said the eruption started just before dusk Tuesday. The volcano had rumbled and groaned for hours.

“There was a thunderous rumble that went on for ages, maybe 15 minutes,” said Sukamto, a farmer who by nightfall had yet to abandon his home on the slopes. “Then huge plumes of hot ash started shooting up into the air.”

Scientists have warned the pressure building beneath the dome could presage one of the biggest eruptions in years at Merapi, literally Mountain of Fire, which lies on the main island of Java, some 310 miles (500 kilometers) southeast of the capital Jakarta.

The alert level for Merapi has been raised to its highest level.

“The energy is building up. … We hope it will release slowly,” government volcanologist Surono told reporters. “Otherwise, we’re looking at a potentially huge eruption, bigger than anything we’ve seen in years.”

In 2006, an avalanche of blistering gases androck fragments raced down the volcano and killed two people. A similar eruption in 1994 killed 60 people, and 1,300 people died in a 1930 blast.

This vast archipelago is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity due to its location on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire — a series of faultlines stretching from the Western Hemisphere through Japan and Southeast Asia.

There are more than 129 active volcanos to watch in Indonesia, which is spread across 17,500 islands.

___

Associated Press writer Irwan Firdaus contributed to this report from Jakarta.

 

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21 Volcanoes Across Country Ready to Erupt

Posted by Admin on October 4, 2010

http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/indonesia/21-volcanoes-across-country-ready-to-erupt/399206

Candra Malik | October 01, 2010

In this file photo, Mount Sinabung, one of the 21 volcanoes being monitored for signs of danger.  (JG Photo)

In this file photo, Mount Sinabung, one of the 21 volcanoes being monitored for signs of danger. (JG Photo)

Bandung. Twenty-one volcanoes across Indonesia could erupt at any time, leading to natural disasters, officials have warned. 

An official from the Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Agency (PVMBG) told the Jakarta Globe on Friday that the alert for 18 volcanoes had been raised from Level 1, or “normal,” to Level 2, or “beware.” 

Hendrasto, the head of the PVMBG’s Volcano Observation Unit, said that three other volcanoes were on Level 3, or “standby,” just one step below full alert, or Level 4. 

One of those three is Mount Sinabung in Karo district, North Sumatra, which began erupting on Aug. 29 after lying dormant for 400 years. Its last major eruption, on Sept. 7, spewed volcanic ash more than 5,000 meters into the atmosphere. 

“We downgraded Sinabung from Level 4 to Level 3 on September 23,” Hendrasto said. “However, we still urge the public to remain alert for any danger.” 

Most of the villagers who were evacuated after the initial eruption have since been allowed to return to their homes. 

The two other volcanoes on Level 3 alert are Mount Karangetang on Siau Island in North Sulawesi and Mount Ibu on Halmahera Island in North Maluku. Karangetang is considered the most active volcano in the archipelago, with 41 major eruptions since 1675. Its last eruption, on Aug. 6, is believed to have killed four people. 

Ibu, meanwhile, has experienced ongoing eruptions since April 5, 2008, feeding a lava flow down one side of the mountain. 

The 18 volcanoes on Level 2 alert include Papandayan in West Java, Slamet in Yogyakarta, Merapi in Central Java and Semeru and Bromo in East Java. 

“Semeru and Slamet are the highest peaks in their provinces, while Bromo is a popular tourist destination,” Hendrasto said. “Because of their popularity, we are urging the regional administrations to issue a warning advising the public of the raised alert status.” 

Other volcanoes on Level 2 alert include Talang in West Sumatra, Kaba in Bengkulu, Kerinci in Jambi and Anak Krakatau in the Sunda Strait, between Sumatra and Java. 

Anak Krakatau is the remnant of Krakatau, whose violent eruption in August 1883 killed an estimated 40,000 people and was heard up to 5,000 kilometers away. 

The eruption caused tsunamis as far away as South Africa, and resulted in global temperatures dropping by more than 1 degree Celsius. 

Kerinci, at 3,800 meters, is the highest peak in Sumatra and the highest volcano in the country. It is a popular destination with hikers and wildlife enthusiasts because it lies inside the Bukit Barisan National Park.

In the east of the country, the Level 2 volcanoes are Batur in Bali, Sangeang Api and Rinjani in West Nusa Tenggara, Egon and Rokatenda in East Nusa Tenggara, Soputan and Lokon in North Sulawesi, and Dukono and Gamalama in North Maluku. 

“Our officials will keep monitoring these volcanoes around the clock and provide real-time updates,” Hendrasto said. 

All 21 volcanoes highlighted have erupted sometime this year, and are among 59 active volcanoes across the country.

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Indonesian volcano erupts again, spewing hot ash

Posted by Admin on August 30, 2010

TANAH KARO, Indonesia – An Indonesian volcano dormant for four centuries erupted for the second straight day Monday, shooting clouds of hot ash more than a mile into the air and forcing 30,000 people to flee.

Mount Sinabung spews volcanic materials into ...

Mount Sinabung spews

Some domestic airplanes had to be diverted because of poor visibility.

Many villagers living along the slopes of Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra province wore masks as they packed their belongings and headed to emergency shelters, mosques and churches, said Andi Arief, a presidential adviser on disasters.

Their abandoned homes and crops were blanketed in gray soot and the air was thick with the smell of sulfur.

While two people died — a 64-year-old woman from respiratory problems and a 52-year-old man from a heart attack — it was too early to say if the volcano was to blame, said Priyadi Kardono of the National Disaster Management Agency.

Sinabung last erupted in 1600, so observers don’t know its eruption pattern and admitted over the weekend they had not monitored it closely before it started rumbling days ago in the lead-up to Sunday’s first, less-powerful blast.

Hours later, the alert was raised to the highest level.

Like other volcanoes along the Sumatra fault line — the meeting point of the Eurasian and Pacific tectonic plates that have pushed against each other for millions of years — it has the potential to be very destructive.

Stiff magna forming inside the conical tip can act as a plug, allowing pressure to build up until it reaches a bursting point.

“A volcano with a long repose period could deliver a more powerful eruption,” as was the case with Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991, which killed about 800 people, said Alain Bernard, a professor at the University of Brussels.

Sinabung could either go back to sleep or produce a series of blasts with increasing intensity, he said. “A Pinatubo-size eruption is a rare event and unlikely to appear during the following days. It takes normally weeks or months,” said Bernard.

Though strong wind shifts or a powerful follow-up blast could affect air traffic in nearby Singapore and Malaysia, Transportation Ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan said so far only four domestic flights heading to the provincial capital of Medan were diverted.

The number of people evacuated reached 30,000 by Monday afternoon, said Erni Damanik with the Tanah Karo district information center. Many people living along the base of the 8,000-foot (2,400-meter) mountain have also moved to outlying villages.

Food, emergency tents, and medicine were on the way to the scene, officials said, including more than 17,000 respiratory masks.

Indonesia is spread across 17,500 islands and is prone to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes because of its location within the so-called “Ring of Fire” — a series of fault lines stretching from the Western Hemisphere through Japan and Southeast Asia.

It is also home to some of the largest eruptions in recorded history.

The 1815 explosion of Mount Tambora buried the inhabitants of Sumbawa Island under searing ash, gas and rock, killing an estimated 88,000 people.

The 1883 eruption of Krakatoa could be heard 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometers) away and blackened skies region-wide for months. At least 36,000 people were killed in the blast and the tsunami that followed.

___

Associated Press writers Irwan Firdaus and Ali Kotarumalos contributed to this report from Jakarta.

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