Sulawesi disaster has so far resulted in more than 1,400 dead.
A devastating 7.5-magnitude earthquake hit the island of Sulawesi on Friday, September 28 — the latest in a series of earthquakes affecting the Papua province of Indonesia. The Indonesian National Disaster Management Agency (INDMA) confirms the death toll has climbed to more than 1,400 people, with an unconfirmed number of injured and missing residents growing by the hour.
Seventy-two hours after the earthquake, authorities were trying to recover more bodies as search and rescue continued in what is now recognized as the deadliest earthquake so far in 2018. The INDMA confirms that more than two million people were affected by this act of nature. According to reports, most fatalities and injuries were caused by falling debris and tsunami waves.
The trembling started Friday when consecutive tremors hit the Central Sulawesi province, triggering a three-meter-high tsunami that headed to the shores of Donggala, Palu, and Mamuju. More than 130 aftershocks were also recorded. Thirteen districts from the province of Donggala Regency and eight districts from Palu City were greatly exposed to intensity VI-VII MMI (Modified Mercalli Intensity) Scale.
In just three months, Indonesia has experienced several earthquakes, including a 6.9 quake in Lombok in August. Island inhabitants are still trying to recover.
Seventh-day Adventists in the city of Palu were confirmed to be affected by the earthquake. According to local Adventist leaders, several members have died. Some survived by running to higher elevations.
In a text message, Pastor Alvian Sadondang said he and his family are thankful that all of them survived during this natural calamity but were saddened by the devastation it caused to the citizens of Palu, including Adventist members.
“My family and I are looking for our church members who are still missing at this moment. Five of our brethren were victims of the tsunami, and there are still some more that we are still searching until now,” Sadondang said.
“Our Central Sulawesi Mission office is also heavily damaged as well as our churches in Setia Budi and Parigi. Most of the people in the community need food and basic needs,” Sadondang added.
The Adventist Church in the Southern Asia-Pacific region invites people to pray for families significantly affected by this earthquake. The church is also finding ways to extend assistance to survivors. The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Indonesia is now closely coordinating with local officials to extend assistance and assess how to attend to the needs of more than 350,000 people in Palu who were affected.
Currently, transportation within the affected areas is unavailable due to devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami. The Mutiara Sis Al Jufri Airport in Palu City is closed due to severe damage, making delivery of relief goods and assistance difficult in the area. Airports in Mamuju and Gorontalo Province remain in operation.
According to a recent ADRA situation report, the condition of roads is also challenging, and many are closed due to landslides.
Communication is an obstacle as downed electrical lines contribute to challenges in reporting victim statistics and other data collection.
ADRA Indonesia is working closely with local disaster management agencies in conducting rapid assessments to determine the primary needs of victims and survivors. Immediate needs are ready-to-eat food, baby food, emergency shelters, tarpaulins, blankets, and potable water. Medical volunteers are also urgently needed to attend to the injured who survived the tremors.
After the assessment, ADRA plans to distribute food, clothing, and makeshift canopies to affected communities.