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. Locals Block Work At Indonesian Mud Volcano

A villager steps on a bamboo raft at a submerged village due to mud spewing from an exploratory gas drilling accident, in Sidoarjo-East Java. Victims of Indonesia's disastrous "mud volcano" protested on Tuesday to mark one year since toxic sludge started submerging their homes.Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Jakarta (AFP) May 29, 2007
Hundreds of residents protested near Indonesia's disastrous "mud volcano" on Tuesday to mark one year since its toxic sludge started submerging their homes and farms. The protesters stood in the path of trucks bringing material to strengthen embankments built around the volcano, halting work for six hours, residents and an official said.

The embankments were constructed after the volcano started spewing hot mud in a massive flow which engulfed villages and factories near Indonesia's second city of Surabaya, in eastern Java.

"Today we stopped all mud management work. We have been suffering for one year because of bad management," a protester who gave his name as Ali said.

"Why (try to) contain the mud if it keeps leaking?" he was quoted by Detikcom news portal as saying.

The dirt embankments have reportedly been cracking in places, leading to leaks of mud still flowing from the crater.

An official from the government agency managing the site said work was stopped for six hours before the protest ended peacefully.

"They did not cause any damage," Ahmad Zulkarnain told AFP.

Sludge has been spewing from a gas well since May 29 a year ago, when an exploratory gas drilling team pierced a layer of strata, according to experts.

Attempts by local and international engineers to plug the flow, including by dropping thousands of concrete balls into the yawning crater, have failed.

A new plan to build a concrete dam around the crater up to 48 metres (157 feet) high is being considered by the Indonesian government.

The mud has covered more than 600 hectares (1,500 acres), with the rooftops of houses barely visible in worst-hit areas.

Several hundred residents living in shelters after they were forced to flee their homes also briefly blocked a road in the area to protest the disaster, Detikcom said.

They are demanding better compensation from the Indonesian company blamed for the flow, Lapindo Brantas.

In Jakarta, victims and activists numbering several hundred protested in a park, calling for an end to the disaster. Earlier plans to march through the streets to the presidential palace were cancelled.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Steel Dam Plan To Plug Indonesian Mud Volcano
Jakarta (AFP) May 28, 2007
A massive concrete dam 15 storeys high would be built around Indonesia's disastrous "mud volcano" under the latest proposal to stop toxic sludge spewing from its core, a report said Monday. Indonesian and Japanese engineers have pitched the ambitious plan to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as the nation marks one year on Tuesday since the mudspill started, forcing thousands to flee their homes.

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