Behind Asia-Pacific's Unnatural Disasters

Rony Zakaria

Rest in peace
One of many victims of the Sumatran quake

In the shadow of a volcano, under a nightfall that cannot hide the rising stench of death, Pariaman official Yuen Karnova recounts his district's toll from the earthquake that struck the Indonesian island of Sumatra on Sept. 30: at least 400 people believed dead, just some of what will probably be thousands of casualties from the quake; more than 10,000 buildings collapsed or condemned; a dozen or so villages wiped off the map by landslides. Pariaman, Karnova notes, is hardly a stranger to calamity. "Every natural disaster you can think of, it has happened here," he tells me. "Landslides,...

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