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‘We’re afraid of the sea’: Indonesians seek shelter in mountains | Indonesia News

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South Lampung, Indonesia – Maskah, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, woke up on Saturday night to the sound of wooden fishing boats splintering apart outside her house in the village of Sukaraja in South Lampung.

“I knew it was a tsunami, so I ran to the road next to my house and fled up to the mountains,” she told Al Jazeera. “I didn’t bring anything, just the clothes I was wearing.”

Other villagers followed Maskah, many carrying young children. They trekked over a kilometre and a half along a muddy track on Rajabasa Mountain to a partial clearing called Kebun Damos.

The families spent the night huddled together under trees and sleeping on banana leaves.”It was raining hard and we were all soaked,” said Maskah.

A powerful tsunami hit Banten and Lampung provinces on Saturday night, leaving at least 430 people dead. The eruption of Anak Krakatoa volcano in the Sunda Strait is widely thought to be the cause behind it.

Some 16,000 people are now displaced, including many of the residents from Sukaraja village, who lived close to the shoreline. Most of them are afraid to go home, worried another tsunami will hit their village again.





People said they needed proper tents, blankets and cooking equipment [Teguh Harahap/Al Jazeera]

Fearful of another attack

The morning after the tsunami, Maskah, 39, and other families went back to their houses to collect clothes and other personal items before returning to the safety of the mountainside.

They are fearful that Anak Krakatoa will erupt again and are too traumatised to go home. “That sound in the distance isn’t thunder,” said Ruminah, 32, another resident of Sukaraja village.

“It’s the volcano rumbling and it’s getting louder. Anak Krakatoa is still active, so we are on alert.”

Food is scarce in the makeshift camp and as of Wednesday, the residents were yet to receive adequate assistance from the government.

Up to five families sleep in tents which the villagers built themselves using tarpaulins and mosquito nets.

“At night, we can’t sleep,” said Ruminah. “We’re worried about snakes and spiders. Last night, a huge millipede got inside our tent. And it’s so cold.”

The families say they need proper tents from the government, as well as blankets and cooking equipment. At the moment, they make fires from wood found in the jungle to prepare their food.

While other local residents and charities have donated crackers, instant noodles and water, the supplies are not enough to feed the group of over 100 people at the camp.

In the meantime, the displaced families have tried to supplement their diets with food scavenged from the surrounding jungle, including unripened bananas which they boil to make edible.





Food is scarce in the makeshift camp and there is little government help [Teguh Harahap/Al Jazeera]

Difficulties in delivering aid 

Like other villagers, Maskah and Ruminah are critical of the government’s response to the disaster. They say it is “disappointing” as aid is yet to reach them.

On Wednesday, Jarco, a representative of Badan Amil Zakat Nasional (BAZNAS), a non-structural government organisation that reports to the president, arrived at Kebun Damos to carry out an assessment of the needs of the displaced residents.

He told Al Jazeera that the sluggish government response was due to the logistics of getting aid to such remote areas.

“Access is difficult. We have offered the residents the chance to shelter in a local junior school building but they don’t want to,” he said, adding that he hoped tents would arrive at the camp by Wednesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, other residents have attempted to fill in this gap.

Hari Purnomo, a villager from neighbouring Rajabasa village, is coordinating the local response to the displaced villagers while they wait for government aid to arrive.

In addition to the camp at Kebun Damos, there are several other camps of displaced people from other villages dotted around Rajabasa Mountain.

Purnomo has been collecting donations to take to the camps. He says the local government has only focused on distributing aid along the coastal areas, while areas that are further inland, have been left out.

According to Purnomo, it has been difficult to deliver aid to a group of over 1,000 people from coastal areas in South Lampung, who have taken refuge further inland along the mountainside.

“I’ve tried to talk to them and ask them to come a little further down the mountain,” he told Al Jazeera.

“It’s very difficult for us to help them and bring food or other supplies as there is no road here. We have to come by motorbike and then on foot.”





Local authorities are finding it difficult to reach the affected areas [Teguh Harahap/Al Jazeera]

Inland areas hard to reach 

Local authorities, delivering medical aid, are also trying to overcome similar obstacles.

Minak Wardan, secretary of the central health clinic in Rajabasa district, which includes Sukaraja village, says that the health authority has set up a series of mobile clinics which have driven into mountainous areas to distribute medicine.

Despite making three trips since the tsunami hit, the clinics have not been able to reach all the camps due to the difficulties in gaining access.

Like Purnomo, Wardan has tried to reason with residents. “I’ve already spoken to them and asked them to consider coming down, but they won’t,” he explained to Al Jazeera. “They are traumatised.”

Maskah and Ruminah have no plans of returning to their homes in Sukaraja village. They say they will remain in the jungle until the threat of Anak Krakatoa erupting and triggering another deadly tsunami is no longer there.

Indonesia‘s Meteorology, Geophysics and Climatology Agency head Dwikorita Karnawati has asked people to avoid coastal areas as stormy weather and high surf continue to plague the area.

“All these conditions could potentially cause landslides at the cliffs of the crater into the sea, and we fear that that could trigger a tsunami,” she said.

Eleven residents from Sukaraja village are missing and presumed to be dead. The displaced residents feel that the likelihood of another eruption and tsunami is high.

“The lightning around the volcano is getting worse,” said Maskah. “It’s cold and windy here in the jungle, but we don’t want to go home. We’re scared of the sea.”





Displaced residents say a likelihood of another tsunami is high [Teguh Harahap/Al Jazeera]

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Ottawa families give mixed reviews for online schooling

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So, how’s it going with online school? Families reached by CBC Ottawa seem to have mixed reviews. 

Masuma Khan is a mother of two. Her seven-year-old, Hana Wyndham in Grade 2, is attending French immersion virtual school. Masuma is grateful it’s an option, but can’t help notice a lot of down time.

“There’s a lot of, ‘are you on mute?’ In terms of the amount of learning that’s actually happening, it does seem to be not that high,” said Masuma.

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For Masuma, the decision to keep her daughter home was complex: extended family members are immunocompromised and she worried the in-person learning environment would be unpleasant because of precautions. She also felt her daughter might benefit from being supported at home.

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To help her daughter socialize face-to-face with other kids, Masuma enrolled Hana in Baxter Forest School, an alternative education program where kids spend most of their time outside, one day a week. Hana also attends virtual Arabic classes two days a week after school. 

Masuma’s husband and Hana share the living room work space, and Masuma admits he does the lion’s share of helping their daughter stay on task. There is a possibility that he’ll be required to return to his office in the new year.

“When he goes back to work … it’s probably going to be a little bit more difficult.”

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No school closures after Christmas holiday break, says Ontario education minister

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Ontario elementary and secondary schools will not close for an extended winter break, says Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

Closures aren’t needed given Ontario’s “strong safety protocols, low levels of (COVID-19) transmission and safety within our schools,” Lecce announced Wednesday afternoon. He said he had consulted with Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams and the province’s public health measures advisory table.

That ended speculation about school buildings remaining closed in January for a period of time after the Christmas break.

Earlier in the week, Lecce told reporters the government was considering having students spend “some period out of class” in January, perhaps switching to online learning.

In a statement, Lecce said that even though rates of community transmission of COVID-19 are increasing, “schools have been remarkably successful at minimizing outbreaks to ensure that our kids stay safe and learning in their classrooms.”

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Windy start to the week in Ottawa

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OTTAWA — It’s a blustery Monday in the capital with wind gusts of up to 50 km/hour expected throughout the day.

Environment Canada is forecasting a high of 4 C with a 60 per cent chance of showers or flurries before the wind dies down later this evening.

There’s a chance of flurries on Tuesday as well with a high of -1 C. The overnight low will dip to an unseasonal -9 C.  

Wednesday’s high will be just -5 C with lots of sunshine.

Seasonal temperatures return for the rest of the week..

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