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Long Wait For Victims of Indonesian Mud Volcano

Thousands left homeless by a volcanic mud eruption in Indonesia are still waiting for the final payment of their compensation.

It’s been seven years since the Lapindo mud flow disaster, when a sea of mud first began bubbling up, submerging homes and livelihoods.

Many blame oil drilling activities for the river of mud that erupted, but the company involved, Lapindo, says a volcanic eruption hundreds of kilometres away triggered the flow.

A court case also found it wasn’t at fault, but the company did agree to pay compensation.

Mud flow protester Rendra Triwisastra says the final tranche of millions of dollars is yet to come through, leaving 3,000 people still waiting for full compensation.

“They should finish the payment process so that we don’t have to rent houses anymore,” he said.

“I’ve moved 4 times now, and every time I have to adapt with new people, far from friends, neighbours and the families that I know.”

The last instalment was promised again in May, but so far there’s been no sign of it.

“Recently they say by the end of 2012 they will fulfil the compensation but in fact they don’t have any money,” Sidoarjo from the Mud Disaster Mitigation Agency said.

“We understand their feeling, because it’s already been seven years that they’re full compensation has not been fulfilled by Lapindo.”

In April, Rendra Triwisastra says desperate villagers blocked the pumping operation that keeps the mud from building up.

“We blocked the project and we told the workers to go,” he said.

“Once the payment is settled they can continue their work.”

Aburizal Bakrie, the patriarch of a powerful Indonesian family that partly owns the drilling company, wants to be Indonesia’s next president.

Local residents like motorcycle driver Soleh say the delays in compensation could hurt his chances.

“If he wants to be a president, it’s his right,” he said.

“But if he doesn’t pay for the other 20 per cent of victims, we will not join the election.

“It is the commitment of the whole family.”

(c)ABC News

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