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Indonesia earthquake: Fear and desperation as aftershocks continue

Indonesia earthquake: Fear and desperation as aftershocks continue

Plan International’s emergency response team is reporting scenes of widespread devastation in Sulawesi, Indonesia,  with locals fearing another tsunami as aftershocks continue.

The charity’s emergency response team is on the ground in Palu and Donggala to carry out a rapid needs assessment as part of the coordinated response to the Indonesia earthquake and tsunami.

The team reached the affected areas early on Tuesday morning after a long and difficult journey by road. There have been a number of aftershocks and landslides, which resulted in many roads being blocked and bridges damaged.

On the way to central Sulawesi the team experienced one of these aftershocks first hand.

“Many people are really scared and concerned. Some of them say they don’t know what to do and they are afraid of a second tsunami,” explains Vanda Lengkong, Regional Head of Disaster Risk Management at Plan International, who is part of the emergency response team.

“As we entered central Sulawesi, we saw damaged houses and buildings in various states of collapse. A lot of tents have been set up and people are staying outside. I believe it’s because people are still concerned about the aftershocks.

“We see children together with their parents walking around the city, especially girls and mothers. There are also a lot of children begging on the streets.” Ms Lengkong added.

There has been no electricity in Donggala since Friday after the earthquake.

“Along the coastline, we see the scene of near total destruction from the tsunami,” Ms Lengkong continues. “There’s a big container floating in the ocean, cars completely destroyed, and trucks turned upside down.

“In Palu, what we see is mass destruction from the earthquake. Buildings have collapsed, and people are queuing at gas stations because gas is limited.”

According to Plan International, it is vital that girls and boys – whose lives have been turned upside down by the earthquake and tsunami – get the support they need to help them cope with what has happened to them.

As well as water, food and shelter, the organisation will be prioritising child protection in its response to ensure children are protected from abuse and exploitation ­­­­and that action is taken to help them regain a sense of security and normality in their lives as soon as possible.

The powerful 7.4 magnitude earthquake and following tsunami hit Donggala district and the city of Palu on the island of Sulawesi on Friday 28 September at 05.02 PM (JKT time).

According to Indonesian authorities, over 1,200 people are now known to have died and over 48,000 people are staying in temporary evacuation centres. It is estimated that the lives of over one million people have been affected.

“We are coordinating closely with the Indonesian government, partners, and other humanitarian organisations to ensure that we reach all those affected by this tragedy. As a child rights organisation with a strong focus on gender equality, our primary concern is the safety, security and needs of children, especially girls and young women – including expectant and breastfeeding mothers – and our team will work to ensure that the distinct needs of these survivors are taken into account and met,” Dini Widiastuti, Plan International’s Country Director in Indonesia said.

Plan International Indonesia has non-food items including hygiene kits, tarpaulins, school kits and blankets pre-positioned in its warehouse in Jakarta.

These are ready to be dispatched as soon as the rapid needs assessment has been carried out and it is determined what people are most in need of and how many people have been affected.