Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, typhoon, high tides, landslides triggered by monsoon rains, hot mud eruptions, rainy season’s floods, and dry season’s drought
With a total population of 245,613,043 (July 2010), Indonesia’s Muslim community exceeds 182,570,000 – the largest Muslim population in the world. Indonesia is extremely prone to disasters, both natural (e.g., earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, typhoon, high tides, landslides triggered by monsoon rains, hot mud eruptions, rainy season’s floods, and dry season’s drought) and man-made, and has experienced unique obstacles during national Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) operations at mass casualty sites:
4.2 Religious and Cultural Aspects
Aceh is a special territory (Daerah Istimewa) of Indonesia, located on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra. Its full name is Daerah Istimewa Aceh (1959–2001), Nanggroë Aceh Darussalam (2001–2009), and Aceh (2009–Present). The Aceh province has the highest proportion of Muslims in the country with regional levels of Sharia law. 98 % of the 4,486,570 population was identified as Muslims.
Most of the victims in the Aceh tsunami disaster of December 26, 2004, were Muslim. Their families wished to bury their relatives quickly – within a maximum of 24 h (before the next prayer time). Therefore, there was a great struggle to collect antemortem data, attempting the identification and reconciliation within 24 h.
Most Indonesian people have the culture of religious acceptance (entrusting God’s will), as long as religious leaders sanction their action according to Muslim teachings. The shortage of forensic pathologists, forensic odontologists, forensic field facilities, communication, and transportation in DVI operations demands a greater amount of time to conduct the appropriate procedures.
Proposed DVI management recommendations:
In earliest stages of DVI operations religious leaders should be involved.
Take profile and dental photos of all victims with simple digital cameras.
Use field-grade handheld X-ray devices to take radiographs of every victim.
By adopting such procedures, it is hoped that the identification process can be quicker and more efficient.
How well prepared are we to deal with the worst-case scenarios of this nature? The government and all involved organizations have participated in a discussion to answer this question and, as a result, established a National Standard of Operating Procedure to regulate who will take the responsibility with minimal bureaucracy in the eventuality of a disaster happening in their area.
Dental antemortem data are rare since most Indonesian do not make a regular dentist visit (only a small portion of the population do). No dental chart was available for positive identification of most of the Tsunami victims. Indonesian dentists to this day do not yet use a standardized dental chart (e.g., the dental classification and the symbols used for a correct registration of the various dental treatments) that is useful for the positive identification of disaster victims.