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Jakarta Post

‘Reckless’: Parents criticize school for allowing river trek before Yogyakarta flash flood

  • Sri Wahyuni

    The Jakarta Post

Sleman, Yogyakarta   /   Sat, February 22, 2020   /   05:20 pm
‘Reckless’: Parents criticize school for allowing river trek before Yogyakarta flash flood Flower boards filled with condolences stand in the courtyard of Turi 1 junior high school on Feb. 22. At least eight seventh and eighth graders died when a flash flood swept away numerous students who were hiking beside the Sempor River in Sleman, Yogyakarta on Feb. 21. (JP/Bambang Muryanto)

Saturday was supposed to be a happy day for the family of Khoirunnisa Nurcahyani Sukmaningtyas, a seventh grader of Turi 1 junior high school, as they were to get together to celebrate the student’s birthday.

Unfortunately, they had to gather instead at her funeral that day as she was one of victims of a flash flood on the Sempor River in Donokerto village in Sleman, Yogyakarta, that swept away a group of scouts from the junior high school who were trekking by the river on Friday.

Rescuers had found and recovered eight bodies by Saturday noon, including Khoirunnisa, who was buried in Girikerto village in Sleman.

Some mourners were unable to hold back their tears as Khoirunnisa’s grandfather, Sumarno, gave a speech during the funeral, criticizing the school for not taking safety into consideration before proceeding with the river trek with more than 200 students.

“For Turi 1 junior high school and other schools, please be more careful next time. Do mind the weather conditions so similar incidents will never happen again,” Sumarno said during the funeral. Khoirunnisa was his granddaughter from his first son.

He added that everyone, especially teachers, should use the accident as a lesson.

“I cannot imagine if the 250 students had all been lost,” he said while holding back tears.

Sumarno, the grandfather of Khoirunnisa Cahyani Sukmaningtyas, gives a speech during the funeral of his granddaughter in Girikerto village, Sleman, Yogyakarta, on Feb. 22. Khoirunnisa was among the several students who died during a hike beside the Sempor River in Donokerto village on Feb. 21.Sumarno, the grandfather of Khoirunnisa Cahyani Sukmaningtyas, gives a speech during the funeral of his granddaughter in Girikerto village, Sleman, Yogyakarta, on Feb. 22. Khoirunnisa was among the several students who died during a hike beside the Sempor River in Donokerto village on Feb. 21. (JP/Sri Wahyuni)

As many as 257 seventh and eighth graders of Turi 1 junior high school took part in scout hike on the banks of the Sempor River on Friday. According to authorities, a sudden flood with torrential currents rose when the students were alongside the river, sweeping many of them away.

Authorities reported that at least eight were killed and 23 others were injured. Search and rescue personnel were still looking for two missing students as of Saturday afternoon.

Many criticized the school's decision to continue the hike despite the bad weather. Locals said drizzle had started at the time the scouts started their trek and they claimed they worried that it was already raining upstream and that would cause a flash flood.

Read also: Death toll rises to eight after flash flood sweeps away scouts in Yogyakarta

Fifty-two-year-old Hestiwartini, the mother of Yasinta Bunga Maharani, who was still missing as of Saturday noon, expressed a similar regret.

She said her only daughter only learned about the planned river hike from a WhatsApp message she read before departing for school on Friday morning.

“I told her that day not to join the trek because of the weather. However, she said she was afraid of being scolded if she didn’t join the activity,” Hesti said. She was waiting for news regarding her daughter’s condition outside the school’s headmaster’s office when The Jakarta Post talked to her.

She could not help crying as she recounted that Yasinta returned home on Friday noon for lunch prior to departing for the outing.

“She actually didn’t want to go,” Hesti said, wiping her tears with her hands.

Mulyadi, the father of eighth grader Latifah Zulfa, said the school should take responsibility for the accident. His daughter was among the students who were killed by the flash flood.

“It was reckless,” he said.

Tutik Nurdiana, Turi 1 principle, declined to comment on the matter: “Someone else is already taking care of it,” she said. (kuk)