Disasters through the Lens

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Disasters through the Lens
Dhoni Setiawan
28 Oct 2020
Climate Change, Disaster, Environment

Armed with lenses, photojournalists go into the unknown zones to identify and capture moments that matter and show them to the world. During natural disasters, photography can also be a way to provide a sense of scale, while humanising the disasters.

Dhoni Setiawan, a photojournalist with Indonesia’s newspaper The Jakarta Post, has covered t the aftermath of natural disasters in Indonesia, including the 7.4 magnitude quake that hit Central Sulawesi and   triggered a tsunami and soil liquefaction on 28 September 2018.

Setiawan stayed in the area  for two weeks.

“When covering disasters, we must think of the timing, so the photos are up-to-date. For example, I take photos of the damage on day one, of evacuation, scarcity, disaster relief efforts, and shelters condition for the next days,” he said.

“But I also find unexpected moments that are worth capturing like when I got a ride on a plane and took the aerial stills of the blackouts in Palu.”

Setiawan considered himself lucky to meet  a local resident at the airport—the only place where electricity was available—who offered him a place to stay and a ride to go around to search for photos.

In return, as he knew the access to get logistics supply, he tried his best to help the affected residents living in the same area by distributing staple food.

Search and rescue teams look for survivors under the rubblein Balaroa village, Palu city. Moments after the strong quake, housesouses and people in the area were swallowed to the ground because of soil liquefaction.
“I took this picture from a casa plane on the first day I arrived in Palu. Lights were completely out in Palu; you can only see lights from the passing vehicles. I could not find direct flight from Jakarta to Palu, so I flew to Mamuju, West Sulawesi, first. I was lucky as I managed to get a plane ride to Palu, otherwise it would take hours by car.”
People wave to a departing military chopper t after dropping off logistical support in Donggala. Access to some areas in Palu and Donggala was cut off, delaying the delivery of aid.