The Sulawesi Island in Indonesia was struck by what geologists are calling a very unusual tsunami on 28 September 2018. It all started with an earthquake which, for a country like Indonesia, is nothing unusual; the islands of Indonesia were born from complex plate tectonics. This means that tsunamis are also not an unusual occurring in Indonesia and the surrounding regions; the tsunami of December 2004 is still fresh in the world’s memory. Last Friday’s tsunami was caused by an earthquake of 7.5 magnitude in the Palu-Korto fault zone and created the tsunami that swept up Palu Bay and devastated the surrounding coastal region.
The death toll so far (as reported on 3 October) has crossed 1,407 with over 2,549 injured and 113 missing persons. The death toll is expected to rise.
The Palu Nomoni Festival taking place that day on the beach placed thousands of festival goers exposed to the tsunami. Buildings have been swept away and thousands are said to be in need of medical aid, food and shelter.
Al Hakam spoke to Dr Shabbir Bhatti, Vice President of Humanity First UK (the global disaster relief organisation of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat). He updated us saying:
“A 3-man-team was expected to depart from the UK on 3 October but were held back due to safety and security concerns on the ground; a situation that has only slightly improved over the last 24 hours and is expected to improve over the next few days.
“The situation is similar to that of Haiti in 2016 when the Dutch Navy ship with thousands of tonnes of food aid had to turn back and not dock due to crowd control issues despite having 50 armed marines on board. Although there is a clear need on the ground, authorities must ensure the safety of their own personnel and prevent any escalation of hostility.
“A trained and experienced team from Humanity First Indonesia, which includes 2 doctors, is now scheduled to arrive in Palu on 5 October 2018. The team members include Ahmad Masihuddin (Vice Chair HF Indonesia), Anton Baskoro, Agil Cahyo Manembah, Dr. R. Hari Ahmad Muchsin and Dr. Azizah Boenjamin.
“However, the situation is fluid as flights are being cancelled causing unexpected delays and changes. Local NGOs and charities in Palu are also struggling to make any impact, with no electricity or fuel and access issues.
“Currently HF Indonesia are in contact with the local HF representative in Palu who unfortunately has no roof over his head. The team will take adequate supplies to help stabilise as many affected persons as possible.
“Once the team are on the ground and have assessed the situation, they will determine the needs and a relief distribution plan. Only then will they decide in terms of the most efficient way of sourcing aid and overcoming logistic issues.
“Contact has been made with Tom Lembong to facilitate in convincing the Indonesian Government to accept international aid. 300 water survival boxes are ready to be dispatched, for which we are seeking customs-free clearance for the HF ground team to distribute.
“International UN LOGISTICS cluster meeting to discuss Indonesia earthquake will be attended by three members of Humanity First.
“Finally, whilst HF on the ground works hard under these challenging circumstances faced by all NGOs, we pray for openings allowing HF to serve effectively.”
Humanity First is accepting donations for their relief efforts in Indonesia. Readers are encouraged to visit the link given below and donate generously for this noble cause of serving humanity.