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. Indonesian mud victims demand compensation

by Staff Writers
Jakarta (AFP) March 12, 2009
Victims of Indonesia's mud volcano protested in front of the state palace Thursday to demand compensation promised by the politically connected energy company blamed for the disaster.

Lapindo, part of the business empire of Welfare Minister Aburizal Bakrie, agreed in February to pay 15 million rupiah (1,260 dollars) a month to each displaced family until all outstanding compensation is settled.

But victim representative Paring Waluyo said the plan violated a presidential decree ordering the company to pay by last year.

"We want the government to pay us at once, not through installments," he said.

About 100 mud victims rallied to ask the government to step in and sort out the problem, three years after the mud burst from a Lapindo gas well in East Java, killing 13 people and displacing 36,000.

"We don't agree with the installment plan as it violates the government's earlier promise through a presidential decree, which says that all outstanding payments should be finished by June 2008," he said.

Lapindo has blamed an earthquake for the disaster despite independent geologists' findings that the volcano was almost certainly caused by its exploratory drilling.

About 8,000 families are eligible for compensation.

The company has said the installments will eventually total 100 to 150 million rupiah, representing 80 percent of the value of properties destroyed in the mudflow. It says it has already paid the remaining 20 percent.

It has attributed delays in the payments to the global credit crunch.

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Building collapse kills 11 China rail workers: state media
Beijing (AFP) March 11, 2009
Eleven people were killed and 20 were injured in eastern China on Wednesday after a blast led to the collapse of a former factory that was housing railway workers, state media reported

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