Indonesian agency downplays volcanic eruption

Lava streams down from Anak Krakatoa volcano during an eruption as seen from Rakata island in South Lampung. (AFP)
Updated 21 July 2018
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Indonesian agency downplays volcanic eruption

  • No one lives on Krakatau, which forms a small island in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra, but the peak is a popular tourist spot
  • Indonesia is situated on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", a vast zone of geological instability

JAKARTA: The deadly 1883 eruption of Mount Krakatoa is unlikely to happen again despite the Anak Krakatoa volcanic island showing signs of increased activity, said Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency.
The Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation has raised the alert status to the second of four levels since June 18 after the volcano rumbled back to life by spewing ash and lava, prompting officials to declare an exclusion zone within 1 km of the summit.
Anak Krakatoa caused hundreds of mild tremors on Thursday, according to seismographic data from the volcanology center.
“It continues to rumble, and the eruptions are a normal phenomenon,” disaster mitigation agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told Arab News on Friday.
“Anak Krakatoa erupts as it continues to emerge higher, but the eruptions are never big since the energy of the magma it expels to the surface isn’t strong,” he said.
“Even though it erupts hundreds of times every day and the alert level has been increased, it’s not dangerous. It won’t cause a tsunami like in 1883,” Kasbani, head of the volcanology center told Arab News.
The eruption that year caused a 30-meter-high tsunami that killed more than 36 million people and lowered global temperatures by around 1.2 degrees Celcius for five years.
The eruption was so loud that it was audible as far away as Perth in western Australia, which is 3,100 km away, and in Mauritius, which is 4,800 km away.
The volcano erupted 479 times last weekend, gushing plumes of thick smoke up to 800 meters high, and lava was visible streaming down from its summit at night, Nugroho said. The eruptions have so far not affected flights or sea voyages, he added.
The Sunda Strait, where the island is located, is a busy shipping lane and accommodates the 30-km, frequently used ferry crossing between the islands of Java and Sumatra.
Anak Krakatoa is uninhabited, but its 300-meter-high summit is a popular tourist destination. It is one of the 127 active volcanoes — a third of the world’s total — that dot the Indonesian archipelago, and is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, where several tectonic plates meet and subduct, frequently triggering earthquakes and volcanic activity.


Vote count begins for Afghan election

Afghan election observers at a polling center after ballots in the country’s legislative election were counted in Kabul on Monday. (AFP)
Updated 22 October 2018
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Vote count begins for Afghan election

  • Some candidates said powerful figures were behind election rigging
  • The Electoral Complaints Commission said there was mismanagement during the election, and as of Sunday it had received some 5,000 complaints from voters and candidates

KABUL: Vote counting began on Monday for Afghanistan’s parliamentary election, which was marred by violence and irregularities, with political parties alleging “organized fraud.”

The parties said mismanagement and hundreds of Taliban attacks, which led to an extension of voting for another day at hundreds of polling stations, could raise questions over the election result, which is expected to be released in two months.

Some candidates said powerful figures were behind election rigging, and biometric devices, which were put in place to counter fraud, were smashed to facilitate the rigging. 

Abdul Bade Sayad, head of the country’s Independent Election Commission (IEC), was cited by local media as confirming incidents of biometric equipment being smashed, and the presence of strongmen inside some polling stations. 

But the IEC should not be held responsible for this, he said, adding: “When the government itself feels helpless before powerful figures, then senior officials of the commission should not be blamed.”

The Electoral Complaints Commission said there was mismanagement during the election, and as of Sunday it had received some 5,000 complaints from voters and candidates.

Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission (IHRC) said people could not vote on Saturday in some 1,000 polling stations. 

Ahead of the election, which was delayed for more than three years, the government said it could not open more than 2,000 stations due to security threats.

Alleged irregularities included polling stations opening late, biometric devices malfunctioning, and the absence of IEC staff and voter registration lists.

Of the 9 million people who had registered to vote, nearly 4 million cast their ballot, the IEC said.

The IHRC said the IEC should not shun its responsibility regarding “shortcomings and grave violations in voting centers.”

The Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan said: “In some of the polling stations, ballots were not counted; instead the ballot boxes were transferred to a different location for counting… without informing the observers about the new location.”