Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Emergency response heads to Indonesia

Indonesia has just suffered through a tsunami and a volcano eruption within 24 hours. Aid agencies are heading to the nation to provide emergency response. The death toll has surpassed 270 people from the dual disaster. People who able to avoid the ash and lava of the volcano then had to outrun the tsunami wave to keep from being drowned.

First up from the Bangkok Post, we receive this description of the disaster.

Monday's quake struck in the Mentawai Islands, an area popular with surfers, generating a tsunami as high as three metres (10 feet) and sweeping away 10 villages.

Survivor Borinte, 32, a farmer from Detumonga village on the coast of North Pagai island, said he managed to stay alive by clasping to a piece of wood. His wife and three children were killed.

"About 10 minutes after the quake we heard a loud, thunderous sound. We went outside and saw the wave coming. We tried to run away to higher ground but the wave was much quicker than us," he told AFP.

Several Australian tourists were also caught in the disaster. One group's boat was was smashed and they were washed into the jungle but survived. Another group of nine surfers was found alive after being reported missing.

The tsunami surged as far as 600 metres inland on South Pagai island, officials said. On North Pagai island, a resort and almost 200 houses were flattened.

Medical personnel flew in on helicopters but rescue efforts have been hampered by poor communications to the islands, which are about half a day's ferry ride away from the port of Padang, West Sumatra province.

Next, we have a round up of press releases from aid groups helping out in Indonesia, first we hear from Save The Children.

Save the Children is monitoring the situation and preparing to respond to dual disasters in separate parts of Indonesia, if necessary.On Monday morning, a 7.7-magnitude earthquake rattled West Sumatra and triggered a tsunami that slammed into the remote Mentawai Islands late Monday, causing damage to villages in the south. More than 100 people are dead and hundreds more are missing, according to the government.

After days of rumblings, Mt. Merapi erupted in three separate blasts, sending ash and searing volcanic material into the air and forcing the evacuation of thousands of people living in the area near the volatile volcano, located on the island of Java. Mt. Merapi is the country’s most active volcano.

“Save the Children has deployed two teams to both — the tsunami- and volcano-affected areas to look into the situation for children and their families. We have a long history in Indonesia and the ability to launch rapid responses and reach affected children and families thanks to its preparedness efforts in country,” said Lala Borja, Save the Children’s country director in Indonesia. “We store relief supplies in warehouses in Java and Sumatra, ready for distribution at the onset of a crisis, and have experienced local and international staff on call to respond.”

Last year, Save the Children provided emergency assistance after a 7.6-magnitude quake hit Padang, about 150 miles north of the epicenter of Monday’s temblor.

Save the Children has worked in Indonesia for over three decades. In recent years, it has responded to nearly all minor, medium-sized and major natural disasters in the country. In addition to providing immediate relief to children and families after a disaster, the agency helps communities prepare for emergencies and develop the capacity to reduce risks posed by and mitigate the effects of disasters in the future.

Media Contact:
Kate Conradt
202.640.6631 (W)
202.294.9700 (M)

World Vision says they are bringing supplies but mother nature is slowing down the delivery.

World Vision's emergency response staff in Indonesia are currently dealing with two disasters in less than twenty-four hours: the volcano eruption at Mount Merapi in Java and Monday's 7.2 earthquake in West Sumatra.

"Indonesia's location in the so-called 'Ring of Fire' means we're a prime target for natural disasters like these, but this is like déjà vu for our team," said Jimmy Nadapdap, World Vision's emergency response director in Indonesia.

"Nearly one year ago, we were responding to earthquakes in both West Java and West Sumatra. However, those disasters were one month apart. I can't remember the last time our staff was dealing with two disasters in less than twenty-four hours."

On the island of Mentawai, West Sumatra, at least 108 people have died and more than 500 are missing after a 7.2 earthquake struck Monday at 9:42 p.m. local time. Eyewitnesses reported seeing a two-meter-high tsunami hit Sikakap Sub District and a five-meter-high tsunami on Pagai Selatan. World Vision's rapid response team deployed immediately to the site of the disaster, but high tides and strong waves have kept the team from being able to access the affected villages on Mentawai Island.

"The situation is very unpredictable right now, and nature is not cooperating with us," said Ita Balanda, a program officer with World Vision in Indonesia. "We want to get help to these children and their families as quickly as possible, but it's still too dangerous to reach the island by boat."

Meanwhile, nearly 2,000 kilometers away in Java, a separate World Vision team is en route to the scene of the volcano eruption at Mount Merapi. The team will conduct a rapid assessment to determine the needs of those families who were evacuated from the area.

Media Contact:
Laura Blank,, or call +1.708.872.5265

Finally, this Mercy Corps blog post is an inside look into some of the logistics behind emergency assistance.

Today was a busy day spent doing logistics for our emergency response to the tsunami that just hit Indonesia's Mentawai Islands. Almost 300 people have died, more than 400 are missing and estimates are that at least 4,000 people are displaced.

Wawan, our team leader, has departed from the city of Padang (on the country's Sumatra Island) to Mentawai. The boat he is on will dock at Sikakap on the island of North Pagai sometime after midnight Wednesday. On Thursday, he will connect with non-governmental organizations he knows well. We will possibly be working with these organizations on response to the tsunami. Wawan will also make arrangements for the storage and distribution of critical supplies to affected families.

No comments: