Indonesia tsunami: Walking through the remains of a destroyed villageDecember 25, 2018
At least 128 are still missing and thousands are homeless.
I am in the coastal village of Teluk. Or to be more accurate I am walking through what remains of the village.
It lies on Java’s western coast, the same Indonesian shoreline that was battered by a volcano-triggered tsunami on Saturday night.
The broken toys in the rubble hint at the life that existed here just few days ago.
The narrow alleyways might have echoed with the laughter of children. Now there is a deathly silence.
Some eighteen thousand people called Teluk their home. But it has been wrecked.
The wave that swept through here destroyed everything in its path. Furniture has been reduced to splintered wood, bicycles are bent and buckled, walls have tumbled.
Everywhere there are fragments of family life: flippers and photo frames half buried in the mud.
Sunaina fled Teluk with her young son Mohammed, his sister Shakeela and her elderly mother Bhaia.
The family were fast asleep when they were woken by the screams of neighbours.
“I had been watching the news for the past few days. There had been coverage of the volcano Anak Krakatoa so I knew there had been some activity. That night I heard it erupt, a loud roar”, she tells me.
“I even felt the ground shake. But I thought nothing of it and went to sleep. But I was woken up by neighbours shouting ‘there’s a tsunami’.
“I just grabbed my children and my mother and we ran.”
Sunaina has is now living with her family at a cousin’s house.
Nine other families from Teluk are also staying there. It’s very cramped but the discomfort is worth it for Sunaina because the house is high up a steep hill and a safe distance from the shoreline.
“I’m scared of the water, I don’t want to go back. But I will have to one day. What else can I do?”
We offer to go back with Sunaina to Teluk. She says she will not return alone so asks two neighbours to accompany her.
Sunaina has not realised just how deeply traumatised she is. She takes a few unsteady steps towards the beach structure. Then stops, shakes her head and doubles back. It is too close to the sea. She is not ready.
One of her neighbours has also returned. But the shock at seeing the damage to her home she bursts into tears.
The wailing attracts the attention of another woman standing nearby. Lena Herlina is a volunteer damage assessor and has been trying to estimate just how wrecked Teluk now is.
She consoles the crying woman by hugging her tightly and telling her not to cry.
“I told her I will help her and other people who are affected by this disaster. Her house is badly damaged so we will try to help her as much as we can but not only her all the homes in this village that were destroyed”.
Sunaina’s story is utterly heartbreaking. But the real tragedy is that her grief is not isolated. There are hundreds of Teluks all along this devastated coastline.
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