Indonesia: Red Cross teams “don’t know what we’ll find” at earthquake and tsunami disaster zone
Jakarta/Geneva, 29 September 2018 – Indonesian Red Cross volunteers and staff are racing to helpsurvivors of the earthquakes and tsunami that hit Central Sulawesi province on Friday, killing at least 384 people and injuring hundreds more in Palu city. The full extent of the disaster is not yet known as communications are still down and rescue teams have not yet reached the district of Donggala, which was closest to the epicentre of the 7.4 magnitude earthquake.
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Jan Gelfand, Head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Country Cluster Support office in Jakarta, said: “This was a terrifying double disaster - the powerful earthquake, and then a tsunami. The Indonesian Red Cross is racing to help survivors but we don’t know what they’ll find there.
“We’re now getting limited communications about the destruction in Palu city, but we have heard nothing from Donggala and this is extremely worrying. There are more than 300,000 people living there. This is already a tragedy, but it could get much worse.”
The Indonesian Red Cross has deployed experts in search and rescue, medical teams, five ambulances and three water trucks, and has dispatched emergency relief items such as tarpaulins, blankets, jerry cans, sarongs and sleeping mats. With road and air transport compromised, the teams are having to travel upwards of 10 hours to reach the disaster zone.
The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is expected to release funds from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund later today to support the Indonesian Red Cross’ life-saving work.
The Irish Red Cross has a history of supporting Indonesia Red Cross since 2005 and specifically since 2017, the Irish Red Cross has been fully funding and implementing a disaster-risk-reduction programme in Indonesia. This programme (called the Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction Programme) strengthens the capacity of vulnerable, at-risk communities to cope with disasters such as earthquakes and reduce their vulnerability to hazards. It is being run in the Malang region in East Java which is regularly subject to earthquakes, flooding and landslides and is home to Kelud, one of the most active volcanoes in the world.
The programme which runs until 2019 and is working in six villages, assisting community members to do a risk-analysis or hazard mapping in their communities. They map out danger zones that would exist in their communities should a particular type of disaster take place, and they put in a disaster plan.
A region prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity, Indonesia is considered one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. These frequent and regular disasters illustrate the need to address not only the immediate disaster response, but also disaster-prevention and risk-reduction initiatives.
The Irish Red Cross already works with Indonesia Red Cross and targeted communities in enhancing their capacity to mitigate and manage future disasters, and the Irish Red Cross therefore stands ready to provide further urgent support to Indonesia Red Cross, as needed.