Friday, May 25, 2007

Mud Volcano: Magicians banned

Magicians and others performing spiritual rites have been banned from throwing amulets and sacrificial animals into Indonesia's massive "mud volcano" for fear of making the disaster worse.

Hundreds of people have visited the ocean of mud devastating Sidoarjo, in heavily populated East Java, in a bid to end the seemingly unstoppable flow of thick sludge since it first broke through the earth a year ago.

Nine villages, including thousands of houses, factories and surrounding rice paddy fields, have been buried by the mud, which started flowing from the site of a gas exploration well during drilling 3km underground a year ago.

Australian company Santos has an 18 per cent non-operating stake in the failed Banjar Panji exploration project.

Guntur, a security guard at the entry to the main mud crater, said people who came to pray and conduct rituals to try and halt the mud - sometimes from as far away as Australia, France and China - usually ended up making things worse.

"Really, whenever they throw the head of a bull, or goat, or cow, the embankments surrounding the place will leak," said Guntur, who only uses one name like many Indonesians.

"Rituals of magic-filled things, or amulets, or things like that are prohibited now. Not long after they throw things in, the embankments would leak."

He said people also needed to seek permission before they cast spells over the mud.

Full Story HERE

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