Less than two months after a deadly earthquake struck Indonesia’s Lombok island, a massive quake hit the island nation’s Central Sulawesi province. The magnitude-7.5 temblor struck at 5:02 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28, generating a devastating tsunami. More than 1,400 people have been killed and the death toll is likely to rise, according to the national disaster mitigation agency. At least 800 people are seriously injured.
World Vision manager Radika Pinto, reporting from affected area, says the earthquake and tsunami destroyed villages and blocked access, causing a “catastrophic situation.” Radika says while local efforts are still primarily focused on search and rescue, “I’m afraid the death toll is going to continue to rise dramatically. The smell of death is still strong in the air.”
World Vision has set up an infant and child feeding center outside its office in Palu, the Central Sulawesi capital, and plans to scale up relief activities as soon as possible, staff say. The organization had pre-positioned relief supplies in Palu, including hygiene supplies and kits for families and children. Immediate needs are for food, shelter, nutrition, child protection, and water and sanitation.
“We are deeply concerned about the impact of this on children who at this stage will be terrified of the aftershocks and struggling to cope with the uncertainty and loss of loved ones. Our own staff have been affected and their own homes damaged,” says World Vision’s Doseba Sinay, national director for Indonesia.
“Ensuring that survivors have their immediate needs met with adequate shelter, food and water will be critical over the coming days,” Doseba says. “It will also be crucial to ensure children are cared for. Our past experience of dealing with quakes has shown that children will be deeply distressed and feel vulnerable if they have lost family members, homes or have lost their sense of security.”
Before the earthquake, World Vision projects in Central Sulawesi province were serving more than 5,000 sponsored children.