Jakarta / Geneva, 26 December 2018—The Indonesian Red Cross (Palang Merah Indonesia or PMI) continues to rush emergency aid to tsunami-ravaged villages along western Indonesia’s Sunda strait – as the country marks the grim 14-year anniversary of the 26 December 2004 Indian Ocean quake and tsunami – one of the deadliest and most destructive disasters ever recorded.
More than 400 Red Cross staff and volunteers are now delivering medical services and supplies to survivors, clearing debris and supporting search and rescue efforts in Lampung and Banten provinces at the tip of Sumatra and Java, where densely-populated coastal areas were slammed and flattened by powerful waves Saturday night.
“Most survivors have been huddling in temporary shelters away from the shore but have started to emerge to search for loved ones and assess damage to their property,” says Arifin M. Hadi, Head of Disaster Management at the Indonesian Red Cross. “Our teams are seeing many broken bones and broken homes, and people who are very shaken. Indonesians have withstood a string of disasters this year and with them, so much loss and misery.”
The number of casualties from the latest tsunami is now over 429, with some 1, 500 injured and 16, 000 displaced.
The Red Cross has sent 24 ambulances and medical crews to the affected areas to transport injured people to hospitals and is dispatching five mobile medical units and a team of orthopaedic specialist doctors.
Jan Gelfand, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) country cluster support office in Jakarta, says, “We know from previous disaster responses that it’s critical to rapidly treat the injured, not only to save lives, but also to prevent long-term health complications. The Indonesian Red Cross’s mobile medical teams are reaching remote and hard-to-reach areas to treat people who haven’t had help since Saturday.”
The Red Cross has 14 water trucks ensuring access to clean and safe drinking water, deployed two helicopters to support search and rescue efforts, and is distributing emergency stocks including blankets, tarps, sleeping mats and hygiene supplies.
IFRC announced on 25 December that it is releasing more than 328,000 Swiss francs (333,583 US dollars / 4,859 million Indonesian rupiah) from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to replenish relief items and enable the Indonesian Red Cross to ramp up medical care, psychosocial support, sanitation services and the distribution of clean water for an estimated 7,000 people in affected areas.
The latest tsunami came days before Indonesia marked the December 2004 tsunami that killed over 226,000 people in 13 countries, the vast majority in Aceh, Indonesia. Since then Indonesian Red Cross staff and volunteers have received extensive disaster preparedness and response training. Volunteers in Banten province – one of the areas most affected by this weekend’s tsunami – conducted exercises with at-risk communities on tsunami awareness and response only two months ago.
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