Palu/Geneva, 5 October 2018 – One week after earthquakes and a powerful tsunami devastated the island of Sulawesi, more and more relief is arriving in shattered communities after Red Cross teams reached previously inaccessible areas of Palu, Donggala and Sigi.
The main focus of the Indonesian Red Cross operation is now on the distribution of clean water and food, providing medical support, and evacuating survivors from the disaster zone.
Iris van Deinse, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) communications delegate in Palu, is with the teams bringing food, clean water and medical support to the worst affected areas.
She said: “More and more aid is arriving every day – a plane has just arrived with generators and tarpaulins from the government of New Zealand – and 70 tons of Red Cross relief goods are on their way to Palu.
“Many roads are still impassible, and access is still a major challenge, but we are bringing goods in by boat and volunteers are carrying aid to isolated communities on foot.
“The shock and trauma here is palpable, and the area is still affected by aftershocks a week after the disaster. Red Cross teams are doing everything they can to comfort survivors and evacuate them to safer areas of the island.”
Red Cross volunteers have reached the settlement of Banawa, in Donggala, where every home along the shoreline was wiped out by the tsunami. The team has described Banawa as the worst affected area they have so far seen. The survivors have been evacuated – or have travelled independently - to neighbouring houses in the hills, where they are in need of health care, tents, blankets, baby food, and diapers.
Around 50 Indonesian Red Cross volunteers are expected to escort survivors from the Petobo and Balaroa settlements to safety today. Hundreds of blankets, clean water, tarpaulins, mats and 1,400kg of rice will be distributed to survivors in Sigi and Donggala. Three water trucks are being used and a further seven trucks are on their way to the area.
One Red Cross search and rescue team is still active and responding to requests from the affected communities. Heavy machinery has arrived to help excavate buried settlements, and Indonesian Red Cross volunteers will also be helping to manage any dead bodies that are found.
Government agencies report that at least 1,581 people have been killed, more than 2,500 have been injured, and 113 people are still missing. IFRC is appealing for 22 million Swiss francs to support 160,000 people affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Sulawesi, and the series of earthquakes on the island of Lombok.