Friday, October 02, 2009
  West Sumatra Earthquake Update

West Sumatra has long been my favourite part of Indonesia, not least because because of its special culture, based on matrilineage. Padang itself, has always been a place to get out from: the cacophony of its urban sprawl is too much like Jakarta. However, we have bought a plot of land in Lubuk Sikaping, about 250 kilometres north of Padang and off the coastal plain, which I still hope/dream will serve as a peaceful retirement haven.

The following is taken verbatim from the What's New Jakarta newsletter.

In a tragic reminder of the unpredictable nature of this planet and the fragile co-existence with the human race, this week saw a tsunami taking human life in Samoa and closer to home a series of earthquakes affecting parts of Sumatra. A 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck West Sumatra on Wednesday and another 7 magnitude quake struck on Thursday. The death toll is likely to escalate (to a lot more than 1,000) in the coming days and many people remain buried or missing in the rubble.

There is no doubt that a significant proportion of deaths and injuries from earthquakes in Indonesia could be avoided if building codes were more stringent. In light of this unfolding tragedy, and past earthquakes such as in Yogyakarta and given the likelihood of earthquakes continuing to occur in Indonesia in the future, we do believe that stronger building regulations need to be enforced, especially in the construction of public buildings, office towers, shopping malls, hotels etc. Developers who construct buildings which are sub-standard and which cause injury or death during earthquakes, should be held accountable by law.

We must totally agree - a school, hospital and hotel (with 200 guests unaccounted for) are among the many collapsed buildings.

Let's hope that through effective rescue operations and aid support that those affected by the latest earthquakes will be minimized. We will announce charity/aid organization that will be assisting in Sumatran relief efforts as soon as possible.

NGOs supplying energency aid

Yes, it has been difficult tracking down NGOs which have immediately responded. The following have set up relief funds, with Mercy Corps already at the scene.

If you know of a reputable organisation which has launched an appeal, please email me or leave a comment below and I'll add them to this list which I'll keep at the top of this page until the situation becomes clearer.


Oxfam-funded local organizations in West Sumatra are on aid missions in the earthquake-hit area ready to distribute 2,400 sheets of tarpaulins for emergency shelter, hygiene kits and clothing said the international agency on Wednesday..

The agency has immediately released $320,000 to cover the costs of the initial part of the aid effort. Oxfam already had stocks of emergency aid in the area for this type of disaster.

“We had aid ready because this area of Indonesia is susceptible to this type of tragedy. Communications with the quake-zone are difficult and we are hoping for the best but having to plan for the worst. We are pulling together a significant aid effort,” said Jane Cocking, Oxfam’s Humanitarian Director.

Mercy Corps

Our team will assess areas that were hit particularly hard by the earthquake, using specific tools and methods that Mercy Corps has used in many previous disasters, including here in Indonesia. These assessments will be used by a consortium of eight humanitarian organizations, which Mercy Corps is leading, to determine the most pressing needs of devastated communities and displaced families.

Since we've already had a presence in Padang for the last five years, conducting programs that range from children's nutrition to emergency preparedness, we're already very familiar with the area and well-suited to lead this effort.

We're planning to distribute shelter supplies, hygiene items and clean water to displaced families who are surviving as best they can in this suddenly-changed environment. Soon after that, we'll continue working with those families through programs that pay laborers a living wage to restore and rebuild their communities. The income they earn will help them support their households, as well as get money flowing to local businesses that are also struggling to survive.

Yayasan IDEP (in Indonesian)

Yayasan IDEP is an Indonesian non-profit NGO. Innovative and effective, IDEP encourages program sharing with other grass roots projects through media and curriculum development.

We are committed to developing self-sustainability and directly empowering local communities to improve their own situations. We believe that permanent results can be achieved through local empowerment.

In 2003 IDEP launched a Community Based Crisis Response Program that will help local Indonesian communities to be more prepared for and to better manage disasters.

Added Saturday 3rd October

SurfAid International

SurfAid has gone into emergency mode and has staff doing assessments of the needs of the people in the coastal areas south of Padang, which are heavily populated and impoverished. SurfAid had Mentawai health program staff already in Padang and they have been reassigned to emergency work. SurfAid will respond to the immediate urgent needs with medical staff and supplies. SurfAid has eight doctors and three nurses preparing medical supplies.

SurfAid is buying tents, tarpaulins, food, water and sanitation and medical supplies in Medan, North Sumatra, and getting these to Padang.

The SurfAid office in Padang survived, however the internet system is down, along with electricity and phones, so a priority is to get a new internet system in place along with satellite phones and gensets for power, along with fresh water as the mains water supply is cut off.

Indonesian Red Cross
In Indonesian

The Indonesian Red Cross (PMI), has deployed 200 staff and volunteers to the area to help in search and rescue efforts. Close to 100 of these are trained ‘satgana’ (disaster response team) members from PMI chapters in west Sumatra and Bengkulu who are on the ground conducting assessments of emergency needs. Over 40 volunteer doctors and specialist water and sanitation teams have also been sent from neighbouring Red Cross chapters in the provinces of Bengkulu and Riau. This morning a team of 30 volunteers left Bengkulu with trucks carrying 2 field kitchens, 30 bags, tents, and other relief supplies. PMI has also dispatched 400 tents along with 2000 tarpaulins, 5000 blankets, and 5000 sarongs from its warehouse in Jakarta.

Logistical hurdles are hampering the relief efforts. Communications to the affected area have been disrupted but the Red Cross is able to communicate with its branches through its HF radio network. People fleeing the area are causing congestion on the roads and the earthquake has affected an area hundreds of kilometres around Padang which is in a remote area of West Sumatra where infrastructure is poor.

Donasi Gempa Sumatera
BCA KCU Thamrin
No. Rek: 206.300668.8, atas nama Kantor Pusat PMI.
Dan Lewat Bank Mandiri KCU Jakarta Krakatau Steel
No. Rek: 070-00-0011601-7, atas nama Palang Merah Indonesia.

Donasi Bencana Umum
Bank Mandiri Cabang Wisma Baja,
No. Rek. 070-00001-160-17 AN. Palang Merah Indonesia

Donasi Korban Gempa Tasikmalaya
Untuk meringankan penderitaan korban gempa Tasikmalaya, PMI mengajak turut serta membantu melalui:
Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI), Cabang Pancoran,
No. Rek. 0390.0100.0030.303. an. Palang Merah Indonesia
Readers in the USA can find a list of some of the organizations working to help quake victims in Indonesia, as well as tsunami victims in the Pacific Island nations of Samoa, American Samoa, and Tonga here. They are either providing direct assistance or are fund-raising for the relief efforts.



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