News focus - Unsung heroes in Central Sulawesi catastrophe

News focus - Unsung heroes in Central Sulawesi catastrophe

Condition of Loli Saluran village, Donggala, Central Sulawesi Province, in the aftermath of a magnitude-74 earthquake and a subsequent tsunami that hit on Sept 28, 2018. ANTARA FOTO/Muhammad Adimaja/kye

Bogor, W Java (ANTARA News) - Nine days after the 7.4-magnitude earthquake and tsunami struck the Central Sulawesi city of Palu and districts of Donggala and Sigi, Anthonius Gunawan Agung remains remembered.

It is State-Owned Enterprises Minister Rini Soemarno who has brought memories of this Palu-based AirNav Indonesia`s air traffic controller back to the minds of so many Indonesians attending the closing ceremony of the 2018 IBD Expo in Surabaya on Saturday.

Rini is right to bring the memories of Agung back to the hearts and minds of the people because what Agung has done is indeed a heroic story that can be told from generation to generation.

The story of the brave-heart of Anthonius Gunawan Agung will remain in the hearts and minds of the 155 people on board the Batik Air plane bound for Hasanuddin International Airport in South Sulawesi Province that could be airborne safely.

Agung will also remain in the minds and hearts of his colleagues and the people at large due to his dedication, professionalism, and brave heart that saved the lives of those in the commercial aircraft by risking his own life.

On the day the catastrophe occurred, as revealed in local media reports, Agung kept managing the last take-off though his colleagues hurriedly left the Mutiara Sis Al-jufri Airport`s Air Traffic Control tower after the strong tremors began shaking the building.

Instead of following his colleagues, he ensured that the Batik Air with flight number ID-6231 was airborne safely. "Safe flight Batik Air. Take care!" were recorded as the last words that Agung uttered to the pilot during their conversation.

Shortly after that, he attempted to escape the ATC tower that began shaking and collapsing but God had decided his destiny. His death saddened so many people who love him.

Thus considering the good deeds and professionalism of this AirNav Indonesia`s air traffic controller, SOEs Minister Rini Soemarno called him a hero.

"Agung is a hero for us all. He sincerely sacrificed his life for saving the lives of those on board a commercial aircraft, which was ready for getting airborne."

The efforts made by this AirNav Indonesia`s air traffic controller for ensuring the safety of other people at a critical moment set a fine example for the entire nation, including the employees of state-owned enterprises.

Agung has prioritized service and safety beyond his personal interests.

As Rini emphasized, Anthonius Gunawan Agung truly deserves to be highly lauded, and he he will always be a hero for this nation.

Apart from the story of Agung`s brave heart, there are actually many other "heroes", who have been working so hard for the sake of those in need. Many of them even come from far away from the disaster zones, leaving their beloved ones behind.

Who are they? Among them are security apparatuses and rescue workers who keep on working to secure humanitarian relief operations, as well as to search for, rescue, and evacuate trapped victims in the disaster zones.

Those actively working for restoring the law and order, and helping people in need in the disaster zones, including the volunteers of the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) and Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), are all unsung heroes.

The FPI volunteers, as revealed in media reports, have even arrived at the disaster zones on September 28, the day the catastrophe occurred. Since then, they keep on working side-by-side with other people for assisting those affected.

Anthonius Gunawan Agung and those actively getting involved in humanitarian mission in the disaster zones of Central Sulawesi Province are all unsung heroes though their names are not published in media and are not publicly known.

They have left their beloved parents, wives, husbands, and children behind for helping those in need in Central Sulawesi Province.

They need our prayers for their safety, for the souls of those killed and wounded, and for the patience of survivors because so much work still needs to be done to help community members in the disaster zones get back to their normal lives.

The remaining home work is a serious challenge because the strong earthquake and tsunami have caused not only casualties but also huge material losses.

According to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), the disaster is expected to have made the Central Sulawesi Province suffer material losses of at least Rp10 trillion.

The central government, as revealed by Vice President Jusuf Kalla, has set a targeted time of finishing the rehabilitation and recovery endeavors within two years.

This is a pledge that the central government should be able to fulfill, and a lot of unsung heroes have contributed to the whole processes of humanitarian relief mission as well as to the upcoming rehabilitation and recovery efforts.