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Indonesia: Residents Living Near Indonesia's Mud Volcano Flee Their Homes

SURABAYA, INDONESIA: Residents living near a mud volcano that has been spewing geiser-like eruptions of hot, black sludge since mid-2006 were forced to flee after heavy rain caused dams surrounding the disaster-zone to breach, an official said.

Railway tracks and a major road near Porong, a village in East Java province, were partially submerged before the watery mud receded.

Governor Imam Utomo said 135 people fled their homes on Thursday (3 Jan), but that all had returned by late Friday (4 Jan).

"It's not a serious problem," he said, adding that unlike thousands of others who have been forced to evacuate the region in the last 18 months, with dozens of villages and factories roof-deep in mud, "they will not receive any compensation."

Mud volcanos are fairly common along volatile tectonic belts and in areas rich in oil and natural gas like Indonesia.

But the eruption just outside the country's second-largest city of Surabaya is exceptional because of the sheer volume of mud that has been surging each day from the hole _ enough to fill 50 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Some scientists suggest the rupture was triggered by improper drilling at a nearby natural gas site. Other research points to a major earthquake two days before the mud first appeared in a rice field.

The government has made several attempts to contain or stop the mud, but none has been successful.

Engineers tried building dams to hold back the sludge, but they were about to overflow even before the archipelagic nation started being pounded by rain several weeks ago. Efforts to channel the mud to sea and to plug the mouth of the volcano with concrete balls also failed. (AP)

MySinchew 2008.01.05



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