It is possible that no other disaster in recent times has received as much scientific and media attention, nor generated as much controversy, as LUSI, Indonesia's East Java mud eruption which suddenly erupted on May 29, 2006. LUSI is a truly unique disaster and the attention has indeed been understandable.
While most disasters command a few hours, days or weeks in the public eye, and then fade into memory, except perhaps for the victims, LUSI continues to intrigue and divide scientific communities and media.
As if this disaster alone has not placed enough stress and burden on the local population, the ongoing human tragedy and efforts at mitigation have constantly been clouded in controversy - much fuelled by speculation that a gas drilling rig in proximity to the eruption may have caused, or at least contributed to, the unfolding disaster of LUSI.
The fact that the drilling company, Lapindo Brantas, was 50% owned by a prominent Indonesian family has served to further cloud the facts and hinder relief efforts.
As long as this dark cloud of politics hangs over LUSI, there is little hope of the communities and Government receiving much needed international assistance as is normally the case in disasters of this scale. Along with impeding international aid assistance the controversy that has been continuously stirred up by the media, and pro-drilling scientists, has caused an enormous amount of confusion, mistrust and animosity amongst the people of Sidoarjo.
A disaster of this magnitude requires international assistance, which unfortunately, due to adverse media reportage, has not been forthcoming to date.
Now is the time for the international community, and media, to recognise that LUSI is actually a naturally occuring, unstoppable disaster, and commit to long term, albeit long overdue, assistance for the people of Indonesia - as is the norm with any disaster of this magnitude.
A new study released on July 21st 2013, by world reknown scientists from Bonn University and ETH-Zurich has concluded that the Lusi mud eruption is a natural disaster and a geological rarity of a newborn, tectonic-scale hydrothermal system triggered by the Yogyakarta earthquake. This extensive, peer reviewed study has been published in one of the world's most preeminent scientific journals - Nature Geoscience.
The results of this comprehensive study were ineffectively challenged not only by a small group of pro-drilling theorists, but by the media at large who still appear incapable of recognising that their earlier judgments and assumptions were injudicious.
However, for the Government of the Republic of Indonesia, the Humanitus Sidoarjo Fund, and the majority of leading scientists in Indonesia and worldwide, the Bonn University / ETH-Zurich study confirms what the majority of experts have actually been telling the government for many years - that being - LUSI is a natural disaster.
Surprisingly, or some may say not surprisingly, there has been a blatantly obvious lack of professional, investigative journalists who have been prepared to look at all of the facts available, with most media seemingly preferring to focus their reports on those experts with pro-drilling theories and uncertain agendas.
Since LUSI first erupted the majority of media have continued to regularly make quotes along the lines of: "the 'majority' of leading scientists believe the 'incident' was probably the result of drilling and therefore a man-made disaster", whilst failing all the while to recognise or give worthy credit to other more seemingly credible theories. These actions, in the opinion of many, blatantly displays ineptitude and exceptionally irresponsible, albeit common place, media reportage.
It has for some time been common knowledge amongst many in the international scientific community that the majority of experts, in actual fact, believe LUSI to be a natural disaster - now even more so since the publication of the July 2013 Bonn University / ETH-Zurich research paper in Nature Geoscience "Lusi mud eruption triggered by geometric focusing of seismic waves"
Only time will tell how the truth surrounding this disaster, and the motives that have been the driving force behind the controversy, will eventually play out. It seems likely though that the reputations of some may well be legitimately restored whilst those of others could well be left in ruins.