Indonesia mudflow victims rally over compensation
Wed Feb 11, 2009 8:20am EST
SURABAYA, Feb 11 (Reuters) - About 2,000 victims of a mud volcano in Indonesia's East Java held a rally on Wednesday in the provincial capital, urging a firm blamed by many for causing the disaster to speed up compensation payments.
The mud volcano, which started erupting in May 2006 near Indonesia's second-biggest city of Surabaya, has inundated 12 villages and displaced more than 50,000 people.
Scientists have said that gas drilling by energy firm PT Lapindo Brantas set off the mud volcano, but Lapindo has denied this, saying the mud disaster was triggered by tectonic activity.
The huge mess has been a major embarrassment for the administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, since Lapindo is linked to the Bakrie Group, controlled by the family of Indonesian Chief Welfare Minister Aburizal Bakrie.
Yudhoyono, who is seeking a second term in office in polls in July, intervened last year to order Lapindo to expedite payments.
The government had ordered Lapindo to pay 3.8 trillion rupiah ($322.3 million) in compensation and it was due to have paid 80 percent of the compensation by December 2008.
Mujiono, a coordinator of the victims, said the company had failed to live up to its promises.
"By today, about 90 percent of victims have yet to get their money," said Mujiono, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.
He said that victims would hold another rally in Jakarta next week to attract government attention.
A spokeswoman for Lapindo could not immediately be contacted. ($1 = 11,790 rupiah) (Reporting by Heri Retnowati; Writing by Telly Nathalia; Editing by Ed Davies and Sugita Katyal)
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