National Geographic : 2008 Jan
the dragon supposedly disturbed by drilling. A wealthy local offered a house to anyone who could halt the mud. First, however, applicants had to prove their powers could stop a tap from dripping. It didn't happen. Wary of mystics, weary of mud, Sumitro is short on optimism. "Nothing can stop it," he says. "Not technology, not the supernatural." A dike protected Sumitro's neighborhood until November 2006, when the mud caused a gas pipeline to explode, killing 13 people. "I thought the end of the world had come," he recalls. In a way, it had. The explosion weakened the dike, exposing his neighborhood to the flow. Now, footprints of fleeing residents are baked into the mud of empty streets. Scavengers have stripped homes of roof tiles and wiring. The stink of sulfur hangs in the air. "Nothing left now," Sumitro says. "Only memories."