Nameless : 10,000 Indonesian islands

Jakarta (Antara News) - Indonesia needs at least three more years to name more than 10,000 of its islands, a senior official said Monday, warning that the lack of names left people at risk in case of disasters.

Alex Retraubun, director of small islands' empowerment at the Fisheries and Maritime Affairs ministry, said a recent ministry survey had found that more than 60 percent of Indonesia's 17,504 islands still did not have names.

The failure to name the islands could leave Indonesians on about 5,000 of them at risk if natural disasters were to hit, he said.

"If (the islands) were hit by a tsunami or earthquake, it would be difficult to bring immediate relief to the areas as they are not known and officially registered by the state," Retraubun told AFP.

Indonesia's vast archipelago straddles the Pacific "Ring of Fire", where continental plates meet and cause frequent seismic and volcanic activity.

The official added that the survey had also found that 24 islets have been wiped from Indonesia's map.

"Three of them were in Aceh and disappeared after the (2004 Indian Ocean) tsunami hit the province... The rest disappeared due to erosion and sand mining," he said.

The 2004 tsunami killed more than 168,000 people in Aceh alone. Indonesia was the nation worst hit by the disaster. (*)
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