Massive Funeral for 24 Victims of Merapi Eruption on October 26th, 2010

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It’s not like the eruption of Merapi in 2010 wasn’t predicted before. People had acknowledged that when Merapi volcano started to show its seismic activity in late September, the Volcano Investigation and Technology Development Institution had raised Merapi’s alert level from Normal to scale 2, on a scale of 1 to 4. It was reported that on September 19th, the quantity of earthquakes raised quite significantly. On September 23rd to 24th, alongside with the recorded 500 volcanic earthquakes, the lava ejected out of the cauldron and flew down the Gendol river. The villagers living around the cauldron, especially Glagaharjo, Kepuhharjo, and also Umbulharjo, had been warned and suggested to move to safer region on September 25th, which was 10 kilometers away from the mouth of Merapi. However, the daily activity of the villagers kept going as usual. Nothing was out of ordinary. Some of them believed they had lived around the danger zone long enough to know that the condition was said not that worse, so they didn’t want to leave the village. Moreover, the Spirit Keeper of Merapi volcano, Mbah Maridjan, insisted to stay rather than evacuating.

It seemed that Merapi vulcano also insisted to rise its activity as well. A tremendous eruption on October 26th was off everyone’s prediction. It happened at 5.02 p.m; the pyroclastic density current flew out for approximately 9 minutes, followed by 3 explosions, and other flows 6 times after, until it subsided at 6.54 p.m. Volcanic materials ejected out glided to the west-southwest and south-southeast direction, wiping out the villages that had been warned. It was unavoidable though; there was no preparation, almost no anticipation at all. In result, after the explosion events passed, 24 villagers, most were Kinahrejo inhabitants, were reported died, including the Spirit Keeper, Mbah Maridjan. Considering the number of victims, a massive funeral was held. Right on October 28th, a small ceremony was led by Sleman Regent, Sri Purnomo, before 20 victims were buried altogether in Umbulharjo village, Cangkringan, Sleman, Special Region of Yogyakarta.

Other two victims of merapi eruption on October 26th, who were also buried in the massive funeral, were Mbah Pudjo and his wife. They were helpers of nature lovers and adventurers who’d like to climb Merapi volcano. The couple also often provided nice lodging as well as food for their visitors. When the news of them being the pyroclastic flow victim, those who often paid them a visit felt a big lost, for the couple was very close to them, including Kapala Sastra, a sodality of nature lovers from Faculty of Arts and Humanities, UGM.

For Nanda Ummul, Mbah Pudjo and his wife were very nice. As a member of Kapala Sastra herself, before Merapi erupted in October, she and her friends often visited them and stayed for a nice rest after a tiring outdoor activity around the mouth of Merapi. According to Nanda, the couple had helped Kapala Sastra a lot. “Losing them seems like we lose our own grandparents.” She said, sadly.

Three of Rani Fitriya’s relatives were also the victims of the eruption, who happened to have close relationship with her family. “It’s sometimes still hard to believe that they’re gone,” She said. Rani is a tennis athlete from Yogyakarta, and a student of English Department, UGM. When Merapi erupted, she was in Jakarta, competing in a national tennis tournament, and didn’t experience the aftereffect of Merapi eruption herself.

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