Magelang, C Java (ANTARA News) - The government is to end the emergency response period for the Mount Merapi eruption disaster on November 24, a cabinet member said.
"We will maintain the emergency response period until November 24. Whether the period will be extended or not will depend on the situation," Social Welfare Minister Salim Segaf Al-Jufri said.
Speaking to newsmen on when visiting Magelang district on Thursday, he said Mt Merapi evacuees could return home after the volcano`s "beware" status had been lowered.
During his working visit, Minister Salim Segaf Al-Jufri met with Magelang district chief Singgih Sanyoto and observed activity at a kitchen for Mt Merapi evacuees.
The kitchen was run by the Diponegoro Regional Military Command. The minister also visited the Metroyudan refugee center.
The social welfare ministry had distributed relief aid packages containing staple food and blankets during the emergency response period, he said.
After the end of the emergency response period, the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) would begin implementing the reconstruction and rehabilitation programs for Mt Merapi victims, he said.
"Houses that have been damaged or destroyed will be rebuilt and people who have lost cattle will be financially compensated," he said.
The funds to pay for people`s dead cows would be taken from the state and regional government budgets, he said.
Salim Segaf Al-Jufri further said his ministry had at its disposal Rp397 billion in funds to help disaster victims. Eighty percent of the amount was to meet the victims` physical needs and the rest for operational expenses.
But there also was more than Rp3 trillion in stand-by funds to respond to the needs of reconstruction and rehabilitation, he added.
Asked about how to help the Mount Merapi eruption evacuees who had returned home but they had nothing because their paddy fields had been totally destroyed by volcanic ashes, he said the victims` need for food would be met.
The problem was how to distribute the food supplies to them, he said.
"There is no reason for the displaced people who have returned home not to eat because they have nothing to eat at home. They will be assisted," he said.
During the visit, Salim Segaf Al-Jufri was accompanied by Iranian Ambassador to Indonesia Mahmoed Farajandah and Iranian Red Crescent Chairman Saeed Metani.
"The Iranian Ambassador and Head of Iranian Red Crescent want to see the real situation by themselves so that they will know the needed things," he said.
Mount Merapi had erupted repeatedly in the past two or three weeks but its most fatal eruptions occurred on October 26 and November 5.
As a result of the eruptions, at least 259 people had perished and many others sustained burns and became displaced.
Mount Merapi, on the border between two provinces, lies geographically close to Yogyakarta but is officially part of Central Java.
The volcano`s eruptions spewed hot clouds of ash and lava into the air and sent lava down its many slopes.
Besides killing and injuring several hundred people, eruptions had also damaged 867 hectares of forested land on the volcano`s slopes in Sleman District, Yogyakarta, with material losses estimated at Rp33 billion.
The damaged forested areas included the Merapi National Park, community forests and local people`s plantations.
Mount Merapi is one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia, whose eruptions have regularly been detected since 1548. (*)
Editor: B Kunto Wibisono
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