Padang Is Planning for Big One With Road, Shelters
The Jakarta Globe, Jakarta - 13/01/2012
Officials say part of the planned Padang Bypass road connecting Minangkabau International Airport and Bayur Bay Port in the West Sumatra capital will double as an emergency runway in the event of a natural disaster.
“We designed the [22-kilometer] road so that a two-kilometer section could be used for emergency landings by aircraft,” Suprapto, the head of West Sumatra’s road infrastructure agency, said on Thursday.
Which section of the planned roadway will double as an emergency runway will be determined by the end of the year, Suprapto said. He did not give an estimated completion date for the road.
He said they would need to make sure that whatever section of road was chosen was level, straight and not lined with potential obstacles such as trees, buildings or poles.
The runways at Minangkabau Airport and the nearby Tabing Airport are at risk of being flooded and damaged in the event of an earthquake-generated tsunami.
If that were to occur, the Padang Bypass road would serve as an emergency runway for rescue and relief flights.
In addition to the road, Suprapto said his agency would build seven emergency evacuation shelters in four coastal sub-districts in the province this year. The shelters are meant to minimize casualties in the event of a tsunami.
He said the shelters would be built in the sub-districts of Padang Pariaman, South Pesisir, Agam and West Pasaman. The shelters, he said, would each be able to hold up to 200 evacuees and would be built to withstand the projected impact of a tsunami in the area.
The agency, he said, is working with the heads of each sub-district to determine the best location for the shelters.
A Rp 6 billion ($655,000) allocation from the provincial budget will finance the project.
According to the West Sumatra office of the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), 245,916 people in South Pesisir sub-district are at risk in the event of a tsunami, followed by 78,782 in West Pasaman, 24,861 in Padang Pariaman and 20,644 in Agam.
Padang, located on the disaster-prone coast of West Sumatra, was devastated by a 7.6-magnitude earthquake in September 2009 that left more than 1,100 people dead and 250,000 families homeless.
A year later, a 7.7-magnitude quake and subsequent three-meter tsunami that reached 400 meters inland claimed the lives of 400 people on the Mentawai Islands, about 150 kilometers off the coast of Padang.
A team of seismologists led by Irish scientist John McCloskey said in 2010 that an 8.5-magnitude, wave-generating quake capable of killing as many people as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami could strike off Sumatra, with Padang in the firing line.