“All we want is to leave. ” – Stories from the affected people in Indonesian earthquake

Labia UMPAN is a religious leader from Ambachang Gadang, a village in the hills close to Pariaman that was partly swept away by a landslide. Twelve people died in the village, eight of them from the same family.

"All we want is to leave. We ask the government to move us to a safer place. We are too worried to stay here, with all these huge cracks on the road. Some families have already left because they were too traumatised. We want to live in a flat area; there would be risks of floods but at least no earthquake. For the time being, everyday at 5 pm we all go down to Padang Alai to spend the night there because we don’t feel safe in the village. And then we come back here during the day. In Padang Alai, we sleep 60 in a tent. It’s not easy to leave, I was born here and I spent all my life here, but the property is not important, what is important is life."

Tahir RUDIN is a farmer and father of five from Ambachang Gadang. Two people from his wife’s family died in the earthquake. It’s the second time he has lost his house; the first was after an earthquake in 2007.

"I was not here when it happened, but my wife was. She was outside with one of our daughters when it started. She immediately ran inside the house to take out our other daughter, but when she came out an electric pole fell and hurt her on the leg. Eight neighbours were swept away by the landslide. I went searching for survivors. We searched during three days, but we didn’t find anybody."

"It’s the second time my house is destroyed. Before we had a nice house, but in 2007 it was destroyed by another earthquake. I received help from the government to build a temporary wood house while I was rebuilding the other one. But before I could finish rebuilding it this quake happened. I don’t want to stay here; it’s impossible. I want to go to a flat area."

"My wife, sometimes she still feels like there’s an earthquake again. I don’t sleep well – I have bad memories coming back, the earthquake coming back again."

A woman is sitting alone, crying, in the middle of the rubble of her house, in a village close to Padang Alai. She says she’s still trying to find some of her belongings. Her family was hit by another earthquake back in 2007, but their house was not badly damaged that time. Now, after this quake, she sleeps every night in her neighbours’ house.

"We have lost everything, not only the house. The rice field and our plantation are destroyed as well. My husband is a farmer. Now we don’t have anything left. I don’t know what to do. I can’t think straight now, I’m not in a condition to think. I’m just waiting for my brother to come and he will advise me."


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