'No warnings': Powerful cyclone exposes Indonesia's lack of preparedness
By Emanuel Dile Bataona and Agustinus Beo Da Costa
Gregorius Hide, a 70-year-old farmer in the eastern Indonesian province of East Nusa Tenggara, said the only warning he had of an approaching swirl of muddy water that engulfed his district this week was a smell of wet earth shortly before it hit.
Authorities will need to learn fast from the disaster since Indonesia’s weather agency (BMKG) has warned once-rare tropical cyclones are happening more often, with another potentially damaging cyclone due to hit this week.
Some residents used traditional means to warn people, with reports of mosques using loudspeakers and church bells to warn of imminent danger.
Erma Yulihastin, a climatologist at the Indonesian National Institute of Aeronautics and Space, said Seroja was an anomaly in its destructive force since such cyclones do not usually gain traction in a country straddling the equator.