08/28/2020, 13.30
INDONESIA
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Sudden mud eruption sparks panic in Blora (video)

by Mathias Hariyadi

The event is a smaller version of the Lapindo-Brantas mud flow. At least four people were injured, and scores of buffaloes are missing. What happened is known as a mud volcano, geologist explains, triggered by strong underground pressure or charge of energy.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – A powerful mud explosion occurred yesterday in Kesongo, a village in Blora Regency (district), Central Java province.

This is not a rare event in Indonesia, as shown by the Lapindo-Bantas case. The volume of mud in Kesongo is not comparable to that of May 2006 in Porong, but enough to cause panic among residents surprised by a disaster that had no external cause, like mining, blamed in past cases.

At least four people reported minor injuries. But for now, neither local authorities nor the Indonesian Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (ESDM) have provided any official explanations for the event.

FX Rickoloes Pricorianto, a Catholic geologist with a long experience in mining exploration at home and abroad, spoke to AsiaNews about what might be behind the mud flow.

What happened "in Kesongo, Blora Regency is known as a 'mud volcano' in geology," Pricorianto said. Something similar to Bledug Kuwu, Indonesia’s oldest active mud volcano in Grobogan Regency (Central Java).

Despite its name, the landform "has nothing to do with a real volcano," the geologist explained; instead, "the term refers only to the type of explosion".

“This mud volcano lies along the Kendeng mountains. The strong pressure and vast energy charge must find an outlet on the earth's surface and could have triggered” the flow.

"This happens,” the geologist added, “when there is a fracture or a fault that helps the mud find an outlet through a channel that leads to the surface of the earth.”

However, to determine the real causes of the explosion, the materials released by the explosion would have to be analysed to see whether it is an extrusion of salts or magma.

Such an event, which is always a source of anxiety and trauma for people, happened in 2013 with gases poisoning some local residents.

Yesterday's eruption killed scores of buffaloes that were grazing, owned by locals. Thousands of people also lost the work of a lifetime – homes and other properties – as well as their livelihood.

The same happened in May 2006 in Porong, Sidoarjo Regency (East Java province), when superhot mud flowed into entire villages.

Lapindo Brantas Inc., which was drilling for natural gas, blamed a 6.3 earthquake that hit Yogyakarta, Central Java, 280 kilometres away two days before the mud flow.

The government and political groups close to the company back the company's version. However, in October 2008 a group of experts in South Africa reached the conclusion that Lapindo Brantas Inc. was responsible for the mud flow that wiped out entire villages, cut off roads and railways, forced the closure of hundreds of businesses, and left thousands of people without a home or a job.

According to the scientists, the disaster was a direct consequence of drilling for gas without taking elementary precautions.

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Doubts on the “natural” causes for Porong’s hot mud flow
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Mud flow caused by the Lapindo Brantas Co. to swallow up Renokenongo village
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Lapindo Brantas "responsible" for mud flow
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