UEM News

Emergency aid for earthquake and tsunami victims in Indonesia

Picture above and below: a huge extent of destruction in Palu directly after the quake. Photos: Rev. Junita Lasut, GPID. Pictures below: the interior of a military aircraft with which injured persons were flown out to Makassar. Meanwhile relief actions have started. Photos: Agustinus/Toraja Church/EMS.

Two earthquakes and a tsunami hit the Indonesian island of Sulawesi last week. With unimaginable force, the tidal wave overturned the west coast of the island, especially the island capital Palu. According to press reports, the number of fatalities is currently over 2000, 5000 people are still missing. In view of this catastrophe, the board of the United Evangelical Mission (UEM) today decided to make 10,000 euros available as emergency aid. Since the UEM itself is not represented in Sulawesi, 50 percent of the amount will flow out through the Evangelical Mission in Solidarity (EMS) and the Indonesian Council of Churches (PGI) in Indonesia. The latter directly asked the UEM community for help.

"It is especially important now that our sisters and brothers in our member churches as well as in the whole region of Donggala in Central Sulawesi can rely on it. We are affected by their suffering and feel close to them, we think of them and pray for them. At the same time, it is important that we make financial resources available in order to first of all organize what is absolutely necessary," says Kerstin Neumann, provisional General Secretary of EMS.

The employees of the churches as well as numerous volunteers support the salvage work on site and distribute food, clothing and medicine. They also offer pastoral support to traumatised victims.

Hans Heinrichs is on site on behalf of EMS and reported as follows on 4 October: "The situation in the disaster area is improving. Since the port of Palu was destroyed and the airport also suffered considerable damage, the overland route was the most urgent challenge. In the meantime, it has been possible to clear several access routes to such an extent that aid transports can get through. The military accompanies them where necessary. Since tankers can drive again, there is again limited electricity, the first water pumps function again, at the same time the extent of the destruction becomes even clearer. Almost 1,500 deaths have now been identified. But many are still missing. The smell of decay lies over the city. The danger of epidemics is increasing. The military has set up a field hospital to treat the injured. Food comes into the region. It is becoming increasingly clear that the severe quake (7.5 Richter scale) triggered both the tsunami and large mudslides that buried entire villages beneath them and presumably also the people in these villages. Eyewitnesses report that the mud was partially pushed from the ground to the surface and within seconds roads disappeared under the mud. These mudslides are partly 3 m thick and are currently being ploughed through with excavators to recover corpses and thus reduce the risk of epidemics".

Donations: Vereinte Evangelische Mission, KD-Bank eG, IBAN DE 45 3506 0190 0009 0909 08, keyword: Tsunami Sulawesi.

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