Fire and Rescue Department set for Lombok SAR mission

Govt wants to help in the mission and awaits details from Indonesian counterparts

By AFIQ AZIZ / Pic By AFP

Malaysia is preparing a team to go to earthquake-hit Lombok to assist in the search and rescue (SAR) mission and awaiting greenlight from the Indonesian authorities.

Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said the government wants to help in the mission and is waiting for details from the Indonesian counterparts, particularly on the kind of assistance which is required.

The Indonesian island, which experienced a 6.9-magnitude tremors last Sunday, saw a total of 98 people killed so far.

“The federal government has decided to assist the mission. However, we have not got the detail of the assistance needed.

“If they require our Fire and Rescue Department to be part of the team, we are ready for that,” she told reporters after her visit to the Lembah Subang 1 low-cost People’s Housing Project (PPR) in Subang, Selangor, yesterday.

A child holds up a placard that reads ‘pray for Lombok’ during an earthquake evacuation drill in Medan on the western Indonesian island of Sumatra yesterday. Indonesia had already evacuated 1,200 tourists from the Gili islands located a few km off the northwest coast of Lombok (Pic: AFP)

Indonesia had already evacuated 1,200 tourists from the Gili islands located a few km off the northwest coast of Lombok, which is particularly popular with backpackers and divers.

The first deadly tremor surged on July 29, 2018, by a 6.4-magnitude quake that killed 17 people.

The incident also caused groups of Malaysian hikers stranded at the trail of Mount Rinjani — the second-highest volcano in the archipelago nation.

One Malaysian hiker was crushed by a pillar at her homestay and subsequently died a day after she descended from the mountain.

Recently, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said the National Disaster Management Agency is ready to assist the mission, as well as post-tragedy rehabilitation if needed.

Meanwhile, on the home- front, Zuraida said she is currently looking for solutions to several prolonged issues in various low-cost housing projects under her purview.

The issues include problems that are faced by PPR Lembah Subang, which was reported to have been ill-managed — apart from the problems pertaining to security breach, criminal activities, waste-management, plumbing, as well as inconsistent water supply.

In line with the national housing policy that is scheduled to take off next month, Zuraida aims to redevelop all of the eight blocks of the PPR to provide a better home for the residents.

PPR Lembah Subang 1 has been in existence for 18 years, with 3,044 units and more than 12,000 occupants.

“After the policy is unveiled next month, we will find a cost-effective and practical mechanism to provide them with more convenience and comfort — either via refurbishment or rebuilding.

“We may need to transfer them to transit houses in order to allow for the reconstruction process,” she said.

Zuraida said the ministry will also need to clear up the housing database and identify each owner of the unit before moving on to the next phase.

“We also need to contact all the 867 owners, who had abandoned their houses,” she said, adding that the ministry will also study a new mechanism to manage PPR houses throughout the national housing policy.