The Jakarta Post
After living for almost a year in an evacuation center in Telagah subdistrict, Langkat regency, North Sumatra, 310 people displaced by the ongoing eruptions from Mount Sinabung finally returned to their homes in Karo regency on Sunday.
'All the evacuees have been transported by trucks to their respective villages,' commander of Sinabung emergency response task force, Lt. Col. Asep Sukarna, told The Jakarta Post in Telagah on Sunday.
Asep said Telagah was the only subdistrict in Langkat regency, which directly borders Karo, to accommodate evacuees fleeing the Mt. Sinabung eruptions.
The displaced came from four subdistricts located outside the hazard zone within a radius of 3 kilometers of the volcano, which is located in Karo regency.
The four subdistricts are Kuta Rakyat, Kuta Gugung, Sukanalu and Sigarang-garang.
Asep said three groups of Sinabung evacuees had been returned to their respective subdistricts in the past month.
Two of the groups comprised 2,027 and 103 evacuees, respectively.
'The total number of evacuees that are still at evacuation centers is 5,132,' Asep said, adding that they came from Sigarang-garang, Sukanalu, Kebayaken, Kuta Gugung and Kuta Tengah subdistricts.
He also said the remaining evacuees would get to return home in several groups in the near future.
On Monday, for example, evacuees from Kebayaken are due to be returned to their homes.
Asep added that the displaced were finally being delivered back to their home districts as volcanic activity on Mt. Sinabung had
The volcano began erupting in September last year, killing 14 people, and destroying buildings and thousands of hectares of farmland.
Although Mt. Sinabung was still spewing hot lava and emitting tremors, Asep said, it was not a danger to people who lived outside the volcano's 3 km-radius hazard zone.
Teguh Malem Sembiring, 37, an evacuee from Kuta Rayat, said he was happy that he was finally able to return to his home village after almost a year in the Telagah evacuation center.
Sembiring expressed his hope that the government would help the evacuees restart their lives in their respective villages, as both the fields and homes that had been left abandoned since their evacuation had suffered severe damage as a result of volcanic ash.
'We hope we will receive some financial help from the government to repair our houses and farmland,' Sembiring said.
Asep said the government would be providing the returnees with emergency funding of Rp 6,000 (50 US cents) per person per day for 30 days, plus 400 grams of rice, to support them.
'The money will be given to them shortly after they return to their homes,' he said.
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