Press Release: December 29, 2016 (English Version)

Press Release by The Rector of Syiah Kuala University on 29th December 2016

The Role of Syiah Kuala University in Responding to the Post-Earthquake at Pidie Jaya

The followings are the role and contribution of Syiah Kuala University (Unsyiah) in responding to the post- Pidie Jaya earthquake:

Emergency Response Phase

The earthquake with magnitude of 6.5 occurred in Pidie Jaya District of Aceh Province, Indonesia on 7 December 2016 has motivated Unsyiahto contribute to the emergency responses at the three affected districts, which includes Pidie Jaya, Pidie and Bireuen. Up till now, the earthquake has caused 104 casualties among the three districts, and costs more than 1.9 Trillion Rupiahs loss in total.

During the emergency response phase, Unsyiah had established an Integrated Coordinating Post in Meureudu since day one. The post served to coordinate thedistribution of aids received from various sources; from internal academic community as well as external donors.Unsyiah has also set up a special bank account to receive donations from various sources. Up till now, a nominal around 300 million Rupiahs has been received through the bank account. All of the other aids like basic goods and foods had been directly distributed to more than 20 evacuation camps around the three districts. On the other hand, Unsyiah has dispatched 28 medical specialists and 50 general practitioners affiliated to its Medical Faculty to take care of the earthquake victims. Most of the victims suffered from heavy wounds as the cause of the falling-over heavy rubbles of building materials. Some of the victims were hospitalized in the general hospital in Meureudu, and the neigboring districts, Sigli and Bireuen. Some others who wereseverely injured needed to be transferred to the General Hospital in capital city of Banda Aceh.

Twenty five psychologists affiliated to the School of Psychology ofUnsyiah were also dispatched to the evacuation camps to provide psycho-social accompaniments to the children evacuees. The sense of fear remains as the prominent reason of the ever-increasing numbers of evacuation camps following several aftershocks.

Despite entering the third week since the earthquake, one of the remaining questions not entirely answered is the exact location of the earthquake epicenter and the trace of active-fault system at the surrounding area of Pidie Jaya district. It is ultimately important to be able to identify the trace of active-fault in order to reduce the risk of future earthquake while recovery process takes place. Therefore, Unsyiah formed a number of scientific teams to conduct comprehensive post-earthquake assessment for the entire affected areas. A team of seismologists and geophysicists coordinated by Dr.Rer.nat. Muksin Umar, joined by the members Dr.Irwandi, Dr.Nazli, Dr.Syukri and IbnuRusydy, M.Si, has started to survey the seismic intensity around Pidie Jaya. The team has also deployed 28 seismometerswhich location scattered around the entire Aceh Province, from Aceh Island, around Pidie Jaya, Banda Aceh, till several points at the Western Aceh Districts.The aim is to establish detailed records on the earthquake dynamics in a way to be able to accurately identify the epicenter and the trace of active-fault systems. The assessment expected to be conclusive in characterizing the sources of the earthquakes, which data series hopefully will be available in three months time.

Another team of researchers has been doing a number of surveys to identify the level of structural destructions and failures affected by the earthquake. Led by Dr. Abdullah, the team has been assessing the likelihood of the affected buildings to be rehabilitated or else to be demolished. This includes the vital public buildings such as hospitals, local government offices, schools and so on. A set of stickers comes with different colours were created and posted at those checked buildings to differentiate the level of safety of the affected buildings.

Phase of transition, Rehabilitation/reconstruction, and long-term recovery

During the phase of transition, rehabilitation and reconstruction, until the long-term recovery in the future, Unsyiah will be focusing on at least 6 (six) priority programs, which descriptions as follows:

  1. Accompaniment program for building and infrastructure constructions process in the three affected districts.

This program will be done by providing earthquake information map, the likelihood of building assessment, and consultative clinic for handymen on how to properly construct  the earthquake-resistant buildings. It was informed earlier after the earthquake event, that the Central government has earmarked some amount of incentives to help the process of rehabilitation and reconstruction of each affected houses. To allow effective use of the incentive by the community, the Unsyiah team will provide consultative guidance and accompaniments on how to rehabilitate or reconstruct the buildings and houses which are resistant to earthquakes.

  1. To provide services in health-related recovery, through container hospitals.

Affected by the earthquake, several medical service rooms in the general hospital in Pidie Jaya were destroyed and disfunctional. This hampers good medical services and human resources, which in the end would lead to degrading quality of services. This will eventually results in degrading accreditation status of the hospitaland to miss the opportunity to hire more hospital staff. To prevent this from happening, Unsyiah will be in cooperation with the Provincial Health Department to revitalize the general hospital. This is done by optimizing the use of temporary container hospital at the hospital’s parking lot, to ensure the observation rooms for patients made available, and also to ensure that the patients still be entitled tothe public health insurance (BPJS).

  1. Mapping the trace of active-fault system in Aceh.

Aceh is one of the highest tectonically-active areas in Indonesia. Earthquakes may be triggered from different sources, such as from subduction zones, ridges, Sumatran Fault, and the other secondary faults (Batee, Seulimum, Tripa faults). The recent Pidie Jaya earthquake which results in 104 casualties and the 2013’s Central Aceh earthquake which results in 43 casualties are among the earthquakes which epicenters located along the secondary faults. Because of the lack of data, the dynamic of the earthquakes along the secondary faults have never been fully understood. The active fault system can be studied from the seismic activities, which magnitudes are generally small. Nevertheless, these small earthquakes cannot be recorded nor accurately pin-pointed by the seismometer operated by BMKG in Aceh, since very limited number of BMKG stations and they are located far apart. Up till now, there are still quite a few secondary active-fault system which have not been identified or mapped. Therefore, it is necessary to setup higher density seismometer network for identification of the secondary active faults. Unsyiah in collaboration with Aceh Government will soon establish Aceh Seismometer Network or “Aceh-SeisNet” to strengthen the seismic research activities in Aceh.

  1. Assisting recovery in education.

Unsyiah promptly initiate the recovery in education through the under-graduate student’s mandatory thematic community service program (KKN tematik). The participating students will help in teaching and operating other tasks in the affected schools. In addition, they will also help in revitalizing the school and public libraries at the affected areas.

  1. Establishing the Earthquake Learning Centre (Rumoh Pembelajaran Gempa)

There is very limited information shared in public and government about the Sumatran Fault. This major fault systemstretchesalong the backbone of Sumatra Island starts from Lampung and branches in two faults at Aceh. Around the Sumatran Fault, there are actually secondary faults exist which are potential sources of earthquakes such as the one occurred on 7th December 2016 at Pidie Jaya and on 2nd July 2013 at Central Aceh. Being located at the area of high seismicity, an earthquake learning center is indispensableto Acehnese community. In this learning center (to be called as RumohPembelajaranGempa), knowledge about the science of the earthquake is well-documented and disseminated in an attractive-interactive way for the public, based on the earthquake events inPidie Jaya (2016),BenerMeriah (2013) and the other earthquakes.

  1. Preparing an academic manuscript of provincial law (Qanun) for Disaster Education in Aceh.

To ensure the mechanism of mainstreaming the disaster risk reduction up and running, there is an urge to setup regulations (local law, in Aceh called ‘Qanun’) to infiltrate disaster education into the school curriculum, either formal or informal ones. For this reason, Unsyiah initiates the making of academic manuscript of provincial law for disaster education regulations (Qanun Pendidikan Kebencanaan) and will also safe-guard its legislation process.