Plane crash leaves Medan residents traumatized

Plane crash leaves Medan residents traumatized
Soldiers search the tail wreckage at the crash site of an Indonesian Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft a day after the accident, next to a destroyed commercial building in Medan, in northern Sumatra province.
PHOTO: AFP

Residents living around Soewondo Air Base in Medan, North Sumatra, have been suffering ongoing trauma in the aftermath of the Hercules C-130 crash last week in a densely populated area on Jl. Jamin Ginting in Medan.

Their suffering came to light on Wednesday during a trauma healing session jointly conducted by the North Sumatra Police and the local psychology association at the STMIK Neumann compound, located 50 meters from the crash site.

The residents said they still experienced anxiety to the point of shaking whenever they heard or saw a plane pass over the area.

"Sometime I cannot even sleep," said Jurita Sari, who witnessed the crash.

Jurita said she saw the plane crash and explode with her own eyes, not far from her house.

"I passed out when I witnessed the Hercules come down in front of my house," she said, adding that she was with her child when the accident occurred.

Lusiana Marpaung, another witness, said she was so shocked she bled when she saw the plane crash near the parking lot where she worked as a parking attendant.

She said she saw how the burning Hercules hit the ground after crashing through two buildings.

"I saw a hand was waving from inside the plane, as if asking for help, but a moment later the plane exploded," Lusiana told The Jakarta Post during a break at the trauma healing session.

She also said she saw a number of bodies scattered at the crash site but felt too ill to approach to lend a hand, and she was still hearing explosions.

"The cries still haunt me even today. It's really horrible to remember," said Lusiana.

Rahman Ginting, 61, of Simalingkar, suggested that the government consider moving the Soewondo Air Base, formerly Polonia airport, to a place further from residential zones.

"It's very risky, especially for us who are living near the airport," said Rahman, adding that the roof of his house was damaged in the crash after a tower hit by the Hercules fell on it.

North Sumatra Police's psychological division head Adj. Sr. Comr. HM Silaen admitted that the crash of the Hercules had indeed left behind trauma for local residents.

To help residents deal with the traumatic experience, Silaen said the police had invited psychologists to provide them with trauma healing.

He said the residents would need time to fully work through their trauma. "But we are doing all we can to help them overcome their anxiety," said Silaen, adding that the trauma healing was provided to both adults and children.

The ill-fated Hercules C-130 crashed just three minutes after taking off from the Soewondo Air Base last week. On board were 110 passengers and 12 crew members.

As many as 146 bodies were recovered from the crash site, of which 119 had been identified and sent home to their respective families for burial.

There remains 10 bodies, and other victims' remains in varying condition, which have not yet been identified and are being kept at Bhayangkara Hospital by the North Sumatra Police.

Police have called on people to report to authorities about any relatives feared to have died in the plane disaster.

They asked families to bring documents and items like unwashed clothing belonging to missing relatives which could be matched with the postmortem data taken from the bodies of victims and used to check victims' identity including DNA.

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