SIDOARJO, East Java: Indonesian Muanisah, who goes by one name, recalled the day when she held her 40-day-old baby in despair as he had trouble breathing.
She was just about to have her breakfast on May 29, 2006 when she smelled a pungent odour, which she believed caused her baby to cry while gasping for air.
“He was yawning … unable to breathe. I was afraid something wrong had happened to my child,” said Mdm Muanisah.
Unaware of what the smell was, she got out of her house but the odour was there too.
She decided to take public transport and seek refuge at her family’s house a few kilometres away where the air was clean. There, her baby could finally breathe normally again, she said.
“They (authorities) just said there was a gas leak,” said Mdm Muanisah, who was 22-year-old at the time.
Within a few days, it became clear that the cause of the odour was a mud flow bursting in the middle of a paddy field in Sidoarjo, East Java, just 200m away from Mdm Muanisah’s house.
Now, 15 years later, the mud flow has buried thousands of homes, factories and shops. It is believed to be covering an area of more than 650ha currently and is showing no signs of stopping.
The Sidoarjo mud flow has disrupted the lives of about 60,000 people, forcing them to flee or adapt to the unpleasant conditions.
The mud flow also produces methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that causes global warming and leads to climate change.
A February study by senior researcher Adriano Mazzini et al showed that the mud flow releases 100,000 tonnes of methane yearly into the atmosphere. This is said to be the site with the highest methane emission ever recorded for a single natural gas manifestation.
News source- Channel News Asia