S’wak: 1,000 people homeless after fire

MIRI: Some 1,000 natives from the Punan minority ethnic group living in Punan Bah settlement in Ulu Kapit, central Sarawak, were left homeless after fire razed some 300 of their living quarters.

The disaster that happened on Monday afternoon in the rural settlement, located some eight hours by logging road and river from here, left more than 300 families in dire need of food and material aid.

Belaga District Officer Sirai Naha on Tuesday said the fire devastated a large part of the settlement.

“We (his office) got news concerning the fire only this morning when some affected victims travelled down to Belaga town to lodge a police report.

“I have deployed a relief team comprising officers from my office, from the Welfare Department and from the police to the scene to give immediate aid.

“We are faced with tremendous logistics problems in trying to reach the place. There is only one express boat going up to the settlement early in the day, and one coming down.

“There is a logging road from Bakun to Punan Bah but we do not have the type of vehicles needed to travel through this very rough terrain.

The team will have to stay overnight there and can only come back tomorrow,” he said in a telephone interview from Belaga town.

Punan Bah is located some 80km from Belaga town. Belaga town is located some 200km inland from Bintulu town, which is 250km south of Miri.

The Belaga police, when contacted, said their men are still at the scene and could not be contacted as there is no telephone frequency in the Punan Bah vicinity.

Original article here.


And to think I’ve just written something on the Myanmar disaster. Here in our own country we have a disaster of our own. Smaller in scale, no doubt, but still a disaster.

Are there any casualties? We don’t know for sure yet. Because of the impossible terrain, and the lack of transport, and absolute void of communication.

1,000 people are homeless, and no help can get there, because the District Office has no way of getting there. They cannot estimate the damage. They don’t know how much aid to send.

I don’t want to condemn the District Office too much, because I don’t know what problems they face. I don’t know why they can’t get other speedboats to get to the place. I don’t know why they can only travel once a day. I don’t know why they can’t get the correct vehicles to travel the tough terrain. They might have their own set of problems to deal with, although I DO feel that they’re probably not doing the best that they can.

We’re talking about 1,000 homeless people here. It’s 1,000 people who had homes just Monday morning. Surely the officials can do much much more than just sit in their offices and tell us of the tremendous logistics problems.

Problems are meant to be overcome. And in situations like this, the solution has to come much faster than tomorrow.

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