When reading an article in the mass media about the eruption of Fuego Volcano in Guatemala, it was crossed in mind that the disaster was so terrifying. We can imagine how devastated magnitude of the eruption that spewed volcanic material and pyroclastic flows to hit the settlement surrounding. Pyroclastic flows in the last eruption had speed more than 80 km per hour and would sweep all the objects away through.
The latest news on June 8, 2018 said about 99 people died evacuated and 200 people are estimated missing due to the Fuego volcano eruption. Villages on the slopes are buried in volcanic material after the eruption. Then the question arises on how come the local residents could not immediately do evacuation. Though they have known the history of Fuego eruption for decades.
Quoted from bbc.com, the seismology and volcanology technical agency states that it has issued relevant warnings in a plenty time. The agency claims responsibility for any warning failure lies with the civil emergency authority, Conred, who subsequently did not act on the warning.
It has been shown that Conred’s Twitter feed as late as 11:00 on the morning of the eruption said that it wasn’t yet necessary to evacuate.
Meanwhile, quoted from detik.com site, Maria Turen, a survivor, said that no one told us where to go and what we should do. He does not know where his mother is and is very worried about the condition of his house which is likely to have been devastated. Still from the same site, it was written that suddenly on Tuesday, the sound of whistles, alarms, and people running in panic. The Fuego volcano spewed up volcanic materials, sending pyroclastic flows rising above the surrounding hills.
Looking at the Fuego phenomenon, then remembered what happened to Kelud Volcano in East Java. At that time, the process of massive eruption occurred rapidly after a status of the volcano increased. On February 13, 2014 Kelud Volcano, which was at level III, was raised to level IV at 21:15 local time by the volcanology agency. At 22:55 the first eruption occurred and this was only at certain interval in 2 hours after the increased level. Then at 23:29 there was a huge eruption. One very thing that became the success of post-eruption handling is the evacuation of thousands of the local residents before the big eruption. None of the residents were killed by volcanic materials.
Continue curious that comes after reading Fuego eruption article, in case the disaster management authority did the same with what was done in Kelud. Of course the local residents will hinder from the deadly eruption. Early warning in Kelud had been prepared for a long time. They have learn from mistakes. The vulcanology agency initiated to local wisdom approach the local residents to awaken that Kelud eruption phenomenon was devastating. They only need to do a temporary evacuation until the eruption ends and then can enjoy the blessings of a fertile nature.
In addition, community empowerment was initiated by the local residents to build a community radio. Radio transistor is a simple device and easily accessible to the residents. Some parties synergized to prevent people from the threat of deadly eruption.
It was also experienced by local residents living around Agung Volcano in Bali Province, Indonesia. They faced threat of big eruption. The residents established a community radio called Pasebaya (Pasematonan Jagabaya). This community was educated and facilitated by various parties until finally able to provide early warning to the people around the volcano.
Thus, the two examples above want to show that early warning should not focus on one side only, that is government authorities. However, individual, community, and society should contribute to providing early warning so that the lives of thousands of people can be saved from the threat of eruption.
Fuego Volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in Central America. Large eruptions such as those that occurred in early June last occurred in 1902. At that time, the eruption killed thousands of people. Meanwhile, another major eruption in 1974 damaged agricultural land but caused no casualties.
The volcano with a height of 3.763 meters is a cone-type volcano. The volcano lies adjacent between Chimaltenango, Escuintla, and Sacatepequez is 16 km from the tourist destination in Guatemala, namely Antigua.
Fuego is known to be very active with low intensity. Fuego eruptions recorded in history erupt from 1581 until now. Based on scientific studies, Fuego has a potential for pyroclastic flows as far as 20 km and volcanic ash up to 100 km. The second hazard characteristic is lahar and is very dangerous when the rain launches the volcanic material (mudflows).
Associated with the threat of Fuego, one thing that is very important is the safety of people around the slopes. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has recommended that safety be a factor to be taken into account in anticipating eruptions. Area development should avoid dangerous areas of volcanic material.
Characteristics of volcano eruption can occur within the period of weeks to months, either from the eruption process to the threat of subsequent hazards, such as landslide or lahar. The USGS also recommends that local authorities pay attention to aspects of public education, communication and evacuation, as a response plan.