Indonesia's popular disaster relief spokesman, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, died on Sunday (Jul 7) after battling lung cancer for years, the Associated Press (AP) reported. He was 49.
The National Disaster Mitigation Agency said he died in Guangzhou, China, where he had been undergoing treatment since June, according to AP.
In early 2018, Nugroho revealed that he was suffering from advanced lung cancer. Despite his condition, he carried on his duties during a year which saw Indonesia hit by a series of natural disasters.
He worked while enduring intense pain and undergoing chemotherapy, as he typed news releases from his hospital bed, updated social media and held press conferences while taking calls from reporters at any hour, AP reported.
“He was a hard working figure who served the media and public independently and tirelessly even while very sick,” disaster agency chief Doni Monardo told AP. “He deserves to be called a humanitarian hero.”
Nugroho was the public face of the thousands of people involved in Indonesia’s arduous disaster relief efforts and affectionately known as “Pak Topo,” a moniker that combined abbreviations of his name and the Indonesian word for mister, the AP report added.
He won numerous awards in Indonesia and the wider region for his communications work.
Nugroho was born in the central Java town of Boyolali on Oct 7, 1969.