Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard (2nd L) and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (2nd R) shake hands while Tim Mathieson (L) and Indonesian First Lady Ani Yudhoyono watch on before a lunch reception following their formal talks at the presidential palace in Jakarta on November 2, 2010. Gillard sought Indonesian support November 2 for her proposal for a regional refugee centre, during talks with Yudhoyono.
MAGELANG, KOMPAS.com – President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono led a prayer service for the fatalities and survivors of the Mount Merapi eruption at Tanjung refugee shelter, Magelang district, on Tuesday evening. The Head of State begged Almighty God’s mercy for normalizing Mount Merapi.
“I hope all community members here will pray to beg for Allah’s mercy to immediately normalize Mount Merapi. Let us recite the Suratul Fatihah verses for the sake of our safety,” he said.
When President Yudhoyono recited the seven verses of Suratul Al Fatihah, the first chapter of the holy Qur’an, several thousands of refugees at the shelter followed him. In Islam, the seven verses in the Suratul Fatihah are regarded as a prayer for God’s mercy and guidance.
Muslims who perform obligatory prayers recite the seven verses 17 times a day. Its seven verses are a prayer for God’s guidance, and stress His lordship and mercy. This chapter has an essential role in daily prayers; Muslims recite the Surah Al-Fatiha seventeen times a day, at the start of each unit of prayer.
During his visit to the refugee shelter in Muntilan, Magelang district, Central Java Province, President Yudhoyono was accompanied by First Lady Ani Yudhoyono, some cabinet members, police and military chiefs, and head of the National Natural Disaster Management Agency.
Among the ministers joining the president’s visit were Coordinating Minister for Social Welfare Agung Laksono, Public Works Minister Djoko Kirmanto, National Education Minister M.Nuh, and Youths and Sports Minister Andi Mallarangeng.
On the occasion, President Yudhoyono said he had seen the concrete measures that local governments had taken in response to the Mount Merapi eruption. The local governments had even taken all necessary measures prior to the deadly eruptions by evacuating residents from the Mount Merapi’s danger zones.
“The central government also assists local governments to do their works,” he said.
On October 26, Vice President Boediono had handed Rp500 million in funds for handling thousands of people fleeing their villages near and inside Mount Merapi’s danger zones to Yogyakarta provincial authorities at the office of the Hargobinangun village head in Pakem sub-district, Sleman district.
The money was taken from the Health Ministry’s budget. Besides the funds, Health Minister Endang Rahayu Sedyaningsih had also provided operational funds totaling Rp200 million and medical services for the refugees.
The Health Ministry did not only supply four tons of medicines and 50,000 medical masks but also six tons of supplementary food to reinforce breast milk. Mount Merapi, located exactly on the border between two provinces, lies geographically close to Yogyakarta but officially part of Central Java, has erupted five times since October 26, spewing hot clouds 1.5 km into the air and sending lava down its many slopes.
The disaster has so far claimed 39 lives and displaced close to 70,000 people with at least 5,000 relief personnel, both civilian and military, assisting the people to move to safer places.
Mount Merapi is situated on the border of Central Java and Yogyakarta provinces. It is one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia, whose eruptions have regularly been detected since 1548.
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