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Buildings in Padang, like this one, were completely ruined, but in rural areas, entire villages were destroyed by mudslides.  (MCC photo / Dan and Jeanne Jantzi)

Buildings in Padang, like this one, were completely ruined, but in rural areas, entire villages were destroyed by mudslides. (MCC photo / Dan and Jeanne Jantzi)

On site: MCC reps learn that entire Indonesian villages are declared mass graves

Dan and Jeanne Jantzi
October 8, 2009

 

Editor’s Note: Dan and Jeanne Jantzi, MCC representatives in Indonesia, returned to Padang on the third day of their visit to areas affected by recent earthquakes. The Jantzis are from Lowville, N.Y. Here are some of their reflections, in their own words:
 
The destruction in the district of Sicincin, where the village of Guci is located, is so great that it’s hard to believe there could be areas where the situation is worse. Yet this morning in Padang, we saw aerial footage from 20 kilometers further north where landslides on the heavily forested hills have buried whole villages. The property where family homes once stood has crashed and slipped away so there is no land on which to rebuild.
 
Yesterday, as we stood in the school yard of the ruined elementary school in Guci, the children cheered to see relief helicopters flying overhead to these isolated areas. From the reports we are hearing, the area is accessible only by a three-hour trek on foot. All relief supplies must be sent in by helicopter.
 
Immediately after the Oct. 1 earthquake, Padang appeared to be the area most affected by the tremor. The many collapsed government buildings, stores and hotels in the city provided dramatic footage. A week later, another story is developing as relief organizations are getting to the more isolated locations.
 
Yesterday, the Indonesian government decided to name the landslide areas as mass graves since it is almost impossible to dig out the bodies. The Indonesian Muslim Ulamas Council (MUI) issued a fatwa (a ruling) assuring the 90 percent Muslim population that this is an acceptable burial option in this situation.