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 832 people with an unconfirmed number of injured and missing civilians growing by the hour.
Seventy two hours after the earthquake, authorities attempt to recover more bodies as search and rescue continues in what is now recognized as the deadliest earthquake registered this year. The INDMA confirms that over two million people were affected by this unprecedented act of nature. According to reports, most fatalities and injuries were caused by falling debris and tsunami waves.
The horrendous trembling started Friday when consecutive tremors hit the Central Sulawesi province triggering a three meter high tsunami heading to the shores of Donggala, Palu, and Mamuju. Over 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.
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 elevation.
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 everyone to pray for families significantly affected by this earthquake. The church is also finding ways on how to possibly extend assistance to survivors of this tragedy. 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 over 350,000 civilians in Palu who were affected by this tragedy.
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 it difficult to fly relief goods and assistance in the area. Airports in Mamuju and Gorontalo Province remain in operation.
According to a recent ADRA situation report, access roads are also challenging and many are closed due to landslides.
Communication is an obstacle as downed electrical lines contribute to challenges in reporting victim processes and data collection.
ADRA Indonesia is working closely with local disaster management agencies in conducting rapid assessments to determine 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 victims who survived the tremors.
After assessment, ADRA plans to distribute food, clothing, and makeshift canopies to affected communities in Sulawesi. If you would like to help and extend assistance to families affected by this disaster you can contact ADRA Indonesia office at adraindonesia.org.