Toxic Gas May Spew from Mount Dieng

“In Sinila tragedy, people died because of the gas that came out of the soil cracks”

Kamis, 2 Juni 2011, 12:14 Elin Yunita Kristanti
(VIVAnews/Adrozen Ahmad )

VIVAnews – Indonesian history of national disaster has the Sinila Tragedy on February 20, 1979. Mount Dieng then erupted, emitting toxic gas and claiming the lives of at least 149 locals.

“In Sinila tragedy, people died because of the gas that came out of the soil cracks,” Head of Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Agency (PVMBG) Surono told Vivanews.com, Wednesday, June 1, 2011 evening.

Surono explained that although this time the crater which is active is not Sinila, but rather Timbang, danger is still potential. It is not only about gas coming out of the crater, but also a lot of toxic gas concentrations are not yet located. “The cracks have been spewing gas for long. Now the quakes increase the gas pressure in the cracks, so more gas is spewed.”

So what measure can be taken, considering the CO2 and carbon monoxide gas are colorless and odorless, thus undetectable? They are different from sulfur, which has odor. “Evacuation, that is the only way of anticipation, as the material (gas) is invisible,” Surono went on.

However, not all the residents followed the suggestion to stay 1,000 meters away from Timbang crater. “If they are asked to evacuate, they should not oppose it. many are still delinquent,” said Surono.

For information, some of Sumberejo villagers, for example, still refused to leave their homes. They insisted that their area is quite far from Timbang crater, or around two kilometers from it.

They also reasoned, based on the past, that Timbang crater tends to spew materials toward the north or the south. In case toxic gas is emitted, it usually happens in the evening till early morning. The toxic gas would automatically disappear when the surface of the earth becomes warm due to the sunlight.
According to Surono, this assumption is mistaken. “Don’t take the past into account. The life is at stake,” he said.

How about forced evacuation? “We are dealing with anticipatory actions. If we do evacuate people by force, but nothing happens, we would instead be charged of human rights violation,” he explained.

The status of Dieng Mount was elevated to “alert” on Sunday, May 29, 2011 at 8.45pm WIB. Earlier the status had been raised from “normal” to “standby” on May 23, 2011 at 2pm WIB.

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