The number of casualties from the magnitude 7 earthquake that struck Nusa Tenggara Barat continues to rise. There are different number of fatalities available to the public, which confuse the public and the media.
The number of fatalities according to BNPB and the BPBD of NTB is now at 131 fatalities in NTB and Bali. This data is valid as of 8 August 2018 midday. However, the TNI report fatalities at 381 people. At the same time, the Governor of NTB told the media that the number of fatalities in NTB is at 226 people. Basarnas also has the same number at 226 people. Data from the Lombok Utara Regents is 347 fatalities in Lombok Utara, which was announced during the meeting of the Chief of Sub-regencies of Lombok Utara.
The variations between those numbers are quite large. This is also quite important as data on fatalities is quite sensitive and it is also the first thing that the media and general public seek. So which data is correct? All is correct as they are based from data coming from the field.
The variation in data of victims during emergency response is considered normal. This also happened in the aftermath of the Sumatra Barat earthquake in 2009, the Merapi eruption in 2010, the Mentawai tsunami of 2010, and also other major disasters. The need to report immediately the situation of the emergency response during crisis is paramount so that each stakeholder tend to rely on their own data. This means each institution will have their own data sets which may be different from one another. This could be confusing for the public. This also reflects the reality on the need to have increased coordination. Each data should be reported to Pospenas (the National Assisting Post) for verification before they can be released.
That is why we need to have joint coordination to synchronise the victims data. This can be agreed at the Main Emergency Command Post. The same process should be applied also for the Lombok earthquake. The Pospenas, through the Task Force Commander and Vice Commander, are planning to invite all the relevant ministries/institutions as well as the local government to do data synchronisation at 9 August 2018. BNPB will be accompanying the Provincial government in this meeting.
Each institution is requested to bring detailed breakdown of their own data set, which is the identity of victims, including name, age, gender, and address. We will cross check each other’s data sets. This is to avoid duplication. There are cases where a victim is identified three times, using their aliases, nicknames, and complete names. This victim is then recorded three times.
The identify of victims are necessary because it will become the basis to provide financial assistance to the victim’s next of kin. The government will give assistance package in the value of IDR 15 million to each victim’s heir/heiress.
The data on social media is even higher. The meeting of the Chief of the Sub-regents in Lombok Utara announced the number of fatalities at 347 dead. This data is only for Lombok Utara. If combined with data from other regencies/municipalities the number can exceed 400 dead.
In this connection, the BNPB field command post and the Emergency Operations Centre of the BPBD are still verifying the data. Data of each victim must include the identity of the victim, such as name, age, gender, and address, in order to be verified as valid. This is an important exercise because the government will provide financial assistance to victim’s families based on the valid data.
The Pospenas already request the Regent of Lombok Utara to provide the data on the identity of the victims for verification process.
In accordance to the regulation, the government only recognises official data on the victims of disaster that is issued by BNPB and BPBD. This data will be the official national data. This is why the data from BNPB and BNPB is often issued much later compared to the others. Because the data must be verified to ensure its validity. This is not about who can issue it much faster, because we need to ensure that this data is valid and credible.
In relation to this, we request the media and the public to continue using the official data issued by BNPB and the BPBD of NTB. Later, all data will refer to the data issued by the Pospenas after agreement is reached on synchronising the data of the victims.
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho
Head of Data Information and Public Relations Centre BNPB