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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 October 2006, 03:27 GMT 04:27 UK
Indonesia to dump mud into river
By Lucy Williamson
BBC News, Surabaya

People rescue household items from the mud in Sidoarjo, East Java, Indonesia
Whole villages have been lost by the flowing mud
The Indonesian government has given its backing to a plan to dump millions of tons of untreated muddy water into the Porong river, near Surabaya city.

The plan is a last ditch attempt to stave off disaster, four months after mud started spurting out of a crack in the earth.

The mud spill has flooded more than 400 hectares (990 acres) of land.

It has also forced more than 10,000 people from their homes, and submerged several villages.

As the clock ticks down to the start of the rainy season, measures to contain the mud are getting ever more desperate.

Sidoarjo (photo: CNES 2005-2006)
The mud flow in Sidoarjo started in May and continues to spread

A series of dams built to limit the spread of the sludge has burst several times, flooding eight villages and closing the main highway into the city.

With the crack in the earth now pumping out nearly 130,000 cubic metres of mud a day, the government says it has no option but to channel the sludge into the sea.

Muddy water is already being pumped into the Porong river, and a pipeline is being built to take it directly to the coast.

The environment ministry admits the plan will destroy marine life in the area.

Environmental groups say it could take 30 years to repair the damage.

But many local people are ready to back anything that puts an end to this crisis.

Indonesia to divert mud into sea
27 Sep 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Mud flood threatens Java residents
17 Aug 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Timeline: Indonesia
18 Jul 06 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Indonesia
19 Jul 06 |  Country profiles

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