The chairman of the Travel Association (ASITA) of West Sumatra, Asnawi Bahar, worried that early reports from the earthquake/tsunami disaster area on Mentawai Island were too bold in speculating over the fate of foreign tourists, especially surfers, in the area.
"It sets a bad precedent and West Sumatra will be seen as an unsafe area for visiting and surfing. I really hope that the media does not give the wrong impression about West Sumatra."
A 7.2 strong earthquake, and consequent tsunami, struck the Mentawai Islands district, specifically Pagai island, on October 26th, killing at least 300 people, with another 100 or so missing.
Premature reports of 'missing' tourists
Bahar worried that a number of already booked foreign tour parties would cancel their plans to visit the area, because the media was so willy-nilly in reporting on the possible fate of foreigners in the district.
Every year 10,000 surfers visited West Sumatra, prior to this week's disaster, and they spent on average $1000 each during their stay. If they stayed at the Makaroni and Kandui resorts, they spent even more money, he said.
If they are influenced by the bad news it will have a long term negative effect.
He hoped that news agencies would be more responsible in their reports, and check the facts first with the relevant agencies, and that "regulations" regarding these matters be tightened. 
Crap. Face it there are dangers. Look at the death toll as it mounts. The media did well to get any story out. And what about the negligence of the govt in not maintaining the warning system. The world must know.
And surfers full well know the risks, all round
Let us not be dogmatic. People, surfers, tourists, etc. whoever they are will eventually find out the truth. Hiding the truth is one of the worst act a person or media could do. Similarly, not reporting what actually transpired is another act that people would not want.
Whoever that person who is not happy with the reporting, appears to be for his or his industry’s self-interest. Oh that’s nothing, everything is ok type of reaction is definitely a comment of a person who is devoid from reality. What is 300 plus death means to this person?
What is willy-nilly reporting with that evidence of death? Is this person still not happy that there were only 300+ death before he could realized, oh yes, there is really the danger.
Come on fellas, where is your sense of realization?
The Camera doesnt lie,the truth came out. Do I sense that the almighty dollar is more important than the safety of Indonesia’s people & its tourists because the early warning systems had been put out of action by VANDALS & no authority had bothered to repair them. Screw the regulations that idiots want to put in place to protect their lethargic ineptness & lack of concern except for their self centred fat arses.These pigs should be forced to bury all the unfortunate dead with their hands to remind them they are servants to the customers & their electorate. This scenario will be repeated again as it has been in the recent past.
It’s ok for the chairman of ASITA to be worried about bad press-they do depend on the visiting surfers. Normal reaction…thanks to the internet, the news spreads quickly and puts pressure on the chairman to do something about his fear- to show he cares about the safety of the locals and visitors.
This time, however, due to the location of the quake so nearby, the current system would not have helped even if working- as is not designed to work that quickly – there is a delay.
The tsunami hit in 5 minutes or so after the quake.
Given the Ring of Fire, the terrible 2004 Tsunami, it’s time to spend the money to not only fix the friggin system so that next time it might help..but help educate the local population about what to do (higher ground, a tree, etc) when they feel a quake.
Force charter companies to give back a small tariff for each passenger to help set up a fund for disasters so it’s ready to help as this kind of scenario, given the geology, will keep happening. if we can spend $2,000 or more for a a week of surfing , we can all give $20 to setting up a fund…
Each islet needs a dedicated system to give emergency radio info, not just a siren.
Most surfers have been lucky- but it’s a travesty that the local people are not better cared for by their government.
Siloinak Surf Resort’s team for Mentawai Tsunami needs your help
Surfers send emergency supplies to the Mentawai islands. Want to help ?
Hi, I am Gilles Bordessoule, a Frenchman living in the Mentawai islands since 2004. I manage Siloinak Surf Resort, near Siberut , the largest island of the archipelago.
The 25 October, a tsunami strikes the west coasts of the islands of Pagai and Sipora, severely damaging or destroying about 30 villages and two surf resorts. Rescue teams have collected 500 bodies as far as now, but the number of casualties in isolated villages is unknown, as there is no phone or radio communication. A rough sea and strong winds make access to these villages very difficult.
A ship chartered by the American surfer Matt Georges (Last Mile Operation) has left Padang the 27, loaded with food and medical supplies. We plan to sail with our boat as soon as possible and deliver to the population of isolated villages material for building shelters : 4 tons of tarpoline, nylon ropes, hammers, saws, nails for building around 200 family shelters. Transportation and delivery request 4 tons of fuel.
The cost of this operation is about 9000 USD, of which Siloinak Surf Resort will finance a part, but we hope help from you allowing to repeat this operation some days after with other kinds of supplies.
This is why we send this request for donations. You can send yours by bank transfer to :
SWIFT code : BMRIIDJA
Address : KC Padang Lapangan Imam Bonjo, Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia
Account Name : Bordessoule Gilles
Account Number : 111-00-0445103-1
These monies will be used exclusively for the purchase and delivery of goods given to the Mentawai people. You can learn more about Siloinak Surf Resort and the sustainable development actions we have organized in the Mentawai on http://www.mentawaiadventure.com . Reports and accounts concerning this operation will be published in http://www.mentawaiadventure.com , « Sustainable Development » pages.
If you had other proposals for helping the Mentawai people, please contact me at info at mentawaiadventure.com. The reconstruction will last several months.
Gilles and Novie Bordessoule.
Okay, French folks, that sounds like a good idea, so I’ll treansfer a few sous.
Slightly off-topic, but does anyone know how much was raised for the various disaster victims at that David Foster Concert in Jakarta?
Frankly, I had never heard of Mr. Foster until the local tv ads made me aware of his existence, but I read that people were paying obscene sums, Rp. 1 million to Rp.25 million, for tickets.
Was any percentage of that given to help Mentawai or Sleman? Or did the stars at the concert make any spontaneous appeal?
Great so on one hand we have clowns like this worried about Tourism, and the other has the FBI and Titaful saying that it is God’s punishment for immoral behaviour!
God help Indonesia, because our leaders will not!
Same issue, different disaster:
The Indonesian Broadcast Commission (KPI) media monitoring authority is slated to meet with TV news directors Monday following complaints about “inaccurate” and “insensitive” news coverage of the Mount Merapi eruptions.
A group of volunteers dealing with Merapi’s displaced people sent a formal letter to the KPI, saying that some TV programs had spread undue fear and panic.
“We’ve invited all television stations to discuss this matter,” KPI deputy chairperson Nina Mutmainah told The Jakarta Post Sunday.
Several TV broadcasts have created uneasiness among people living near Merapi. One of the latest TV programs, called Silet, broadcast by TV station RCTI, sparked outrage Sunday after the presenter featured a paranormal saying the volcano would erupt on either Sunday or Monday, and the impact would reach as far as a 65 kilometer radius, well beyond the current 20 kilometer danger zone set by the government.
This morning Radio 1 did a foollw-up newsfeed: the tsunami alarm would probably not have helped very much. It seems that the epicentre of the undersea earthquake was to close to the coast to leave enough time for the people involved to get out of the way quick enough. But I couldn’t agree more that the authorities should take better care of the alarmsystems.