It was on the 3rd day of our trip. A scene we never expected, more at home in a movie screen, not in real life. But, it was real life. And lives have died too in this calamity.
The location -- in Sidoardjo, at the outskirt of Surabaya, roughly 20kms away from the city. It was one fateful day in May 2006. A company drilling for gas didn't hit paydirt, but instead pierced a layer of strata and sludge (mud) has been spewing from a crater ever since.
The disaster left 8,000 people homeless. The mud flow had submerged homes and farms which had caused untold damages. According to reports, thousands of concrete balls had been thrown into the crater, hoping to stop the mud flow. However, mud continued to flow out. An embankment built to surround the crater had also failed. Efforts to cap the crater seemed hopeless.
As we drove through the buried village, we felt an eerie silence. Pungent smell from the emitting gas filled our nose and the smoke could be seen from a distance. We just could not believe what we saw.
Judging from the construction and layout, the buried area would have been, once a planned housing estate, something you don't see very much here.
I was informed too that what was once hectares of padiland, were now hectares of dried mud, several metres deep. Such is men's greed.