BANDA ACEH, Indonesia, April 13 (Xinhua) -- A regional regulation obliging owners of multi-storey buildings to allow their properties to serve as shelters for evacuees during a tsunami need to be issued in the near future, a senior Indonesian official said here Friday.
Speaking in a session to brief the aftermath of major earthquakes that hit Aceh and several provinces in Sumatra, National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) Chairman Syamsul Ma'rif said that the need for such a regulation was highlighted by the fact that widespread panic caused traffic jams and hindered people from reaching evacuation centers provided by government and international agencies in recent earthquake in Aceh.
"Even though they had conducted evacuation drills several times, the panic situation is inevitable. We do not know how long they would be overwhelmed by panic situation. The regulation is aimed at providing quick shelters for those situated near high places as we won't know how long the 'golden moment' left for them," Syamsul said, referring to the time between the quake and the coming of tsunami wave.
Syamsul also suggested those who intend to build worship places, like mosque, to raise the height of the building so that people may take refuge in higher places.
He noted that severe traffic jams had prevented many people from reaching the available evacuation centers in the coastal city of Banda Aceh in the recent earthquake.
The recent 8.5-magnitude quake and several aftershocks forced people in Banda Aceh to seek refuge in higher places ground in their vehicles, thus causing grave traffic congestions following the tsunami warning. They were traumatized by deadly tsunami disaster in December 2004 that claimed more than 230,000 lives in the province.