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On the 28th of September, a 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit the coast of the Island of Sulawesi, Indonesia. In the moments following the earthquake, the towns of Dongala and Palu, closest to the epicenter of the earthquake, experienced various aftershocks, an estimated 150 to be exact, before triggering a tsunami that reached up to 16 feet. The city of Palu was left without power after the earthquake, and as a result, sirens to evacuate before the tsunami never sounded. As of October 2nd, the death toll was reported at 1,230 and is expected to rise as rescuers continue to search through the debris and advance on the harder-to-reach towns and villages of the affected areas.
What are the after-effects?
According to Indonesia’s national disaster agency spokesman, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, another of the biggest problems is the liquefaction. This essentially means that buildings and structures have been sucked into the mud as the soil can no longer support the buildings. According to the agency, they fear that thousands of more victims could be buried in the mud.
As of now, the damage is difficult to fully assess. Many roads have been destroyed by the tsunami and earthquake, making it hard for relief workers to get to the areas in need. The city of Palu is without electricity, water, and low in food and fuel. Many survivors are lining up each day to be able to eat, while others have resorted to robbing local stores for supplies. Still, people are trying to catch the one-flight-a-day out of Palu to save themselves.
It’s still not entirely known what the other towns, like Donggala, are in need of, as these areas have not been fully assessed. Local volunteers have begun digging mass graves for the bodies, with room for over 1,000. The Roa Roa Hotel in Palu has become the center of focus as there are still dozens of victims trapped beneath the rubble, but search teams are still waiting on heavy equipment to rescue them.
How can you help?
While the situation is rapidly developing, there is still plenty you can do now to aid in the rescue efforts in Indonesia. At this moment, volunteer corps is largely made up of local and trained volunteers. Getting into the island is difficult as the Palu City Airport has been damaged and now only has one flight a day. Access to other areas is limited, and food and water are scarce in many areas. Physically volunteering in the Island of Sulawesi should be limited to those who are professional and well-equipped for rescue missions.
However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a way to help out. If you’re a medical professional, help is urgently needed in care centers in the region. Groups like the International Medical Corps team is sending emergency care units to the region to aid in the clinics and on the ground with surviving victims.
Experienced Response Personnel
If you’re well-equipped in disaster management and response check out Mercy Corps or World Vision, two groups sending those qualified in these areas to help out. Mercy Corps has teams on the ground around Palu City working to aid in rescue missions, but if you’re not able to volunteer physically, Mercy Corps is taking donations that will go towards helping families affected by the disaster and providing clean drinking water, food, as well as cash to the communities. World Vision is working to provide immediate care to the survivors of the earthquake and tsunami, through providing hygiene kits, emergency shelter, blankets, and other forms of aid to the thousands of displaced families.
Donations & support
Food for the Hungry is looking for donations to go toward feeding all those displaced by the disasters in Sulawesi, providing food, clean water, and emergency supplies. The organization is partnering with local support and staff to distribute all the supplies. Direct Relief is another organization with boots on the ground looking for your support. A donation to Direct Relief goes toward medical efforts in combating trauma, injuries, infections, and diseases being spread. The organization is working alongside ASEAN’s humanitarian arm.
Humanity and Inclusion is a great organization working to help the most vulnerable in the region. The US charity works to provide aid to those living with disabilities around the world, helping to provide care and supplies, as well as empowerment to the lives of those affected. Humanity and Inclusion are currently seeking donations that will go toward the medical needs and supplies, including rehabilitation and aid, for victims of Sulawesi’s earthquake and tsunami who are living and surviving the disaster with disabilities. Any funds raised beyond what is required will go toward Humanity and Inclusion’s work around the world.
The biggest thing needed right now is food and water, as well as quality and urgent medical care. If you’re looking to make a big impact, it’s important to continue to check back with varying agencies and news outlets to see what else is needed as the rescue efforts continue.