National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho passed away at the age of 49 in Guangzhou, China, on Sunday, while receiving treatment for lung cancer. (Antara Photo/Aprillio Akbar)

Indonesia Mourns Death of Disaster Agency Spokesman


JULY 07, 2019

Jakarta. Indonesia mourns the death of Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the country's beloved disaster agency spokesman, who passed away at the age of 49 in Guangzhou, China, on Sunday, while receiving treatment for lung cancer. 

The lifelong nonsmoker had for many years been the voice and face of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), giving timely and accurate information on earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, landslides and other disasters.

He was admired for his dedication to the job, and known for even drafting press releases on disasters from his hospital bed while receiving chemotherapy.

He was diagnosed with the final stage of the terminal illness in January last year.

The BNPB's disaster risk reduction directorate broke the news on Sunday. 

The news was immediately followed by a flood of condolences from Indonesians under the hashtag #ripsutopo, which started to trend on social media. 

One Twitter user expressed how much Sutopo had inspired him with his dedication. 

While others described Sutopo as a shining example for public officials in Indonesia. 

Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti also expressed her condolences. 

"Deep condolences on the death of Mr. Sutopo Purwo Nugroho. May the deceased be accepted by His side and may his family be given strength," Susi said. 

Sutopo's last tweet was on June 15, when he departed for Guangzhou to undergo medical treatment, which was expected to take a month.

He is survived by his wife, Retno Utami Yulianingsih, and their two children.

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said the Indonesian Consulate in Guangzhou was working closely with the family to repatriate Sutopo's body.

"Mr. Topo had distinguished himself as a communicative, disciplined and adaptive scientific communicator," Indonesian Public Relations Association chairwoman Dyah Sugianto said in a statement on Sunday, referring to Sutopo by his popular nickname.

Sutopo had received many rewards and accolades over the years for his efforts to keep the Indonesian public informed about various natural disasters in the archipelago.