Indonesian President Yudhoyono thinks it would make a great tourist attraction, but the almost 50,000 people displaced by the “Lusi” mud volcano aren’t going to be buying any tickets. They just want the compensation they have been promised. Four years after the mud started spewing from a gas drilling well in East Java on May 28, 2006, they are still waiting for the money they need to start rebuilding their shattered lives.
Independent scientists have concluded that a series of mistakes by the gas company, Lapindo Brantas, triggered the mudflow that has killed 13 people and wiped out 12 villages. The stinking sludge now covers seven square kilometres or almost three square miles to a depth of 20 meters (65 feet), and it continues to flow.
Lapindo and the government blame an earthquake for the disaster, a theory dismissed by foreign experts. Lapindo is linked to Aburizal Bakrie, the wealthy leader of the Golkar party who enjoys a privileged position in Yudhoyono’s governing coalition. Bakrie is seen as an opponent of reform to bring Indonesian business under the rule of law.
(Photo courtesy of NASA)