August 21, 2018

Indonesia and Laos Call for Prayer and Support After Consecutive Disasters

Edward Rodriguez, Southern Asia Pacific Division News

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Southern Asia-Pacific region is soliciting prayers and support in the aftermath of the earthquakes and a flash-flood that hit Indonesia and Laos, respectively.

In response to these disasters, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in both locations immediately began assessing the situation to determine the best way to distribute aid to thousands of people affected by these calamities.

More than 600 people were trapped and over a dozen were killed after a magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck Lombok island on Sunday, August 5, 2018. According to media reports, the powerful earthquake shook Mount Rinjani, the island’s most popular tourist spot, causing landslides and trapping hundreds of hikers and tourists.

Authorities said the numbers can still go up once rescue operations are underway.  Electricity and phone lines in the area were all cut off making communications difficult.

Indonesia’s national agency for volcanic and natural activities (BMKG) recorded over a hundred aftershocks within the next four hours of the initial quake. The epicenter was located 50km north-east of the city of Mataram a few minutes before 7 AM.

Kyriakos Ersantukides Erlan, ADRA Indonesia Logistics Officer who assessed the situation, observed that most of the relief operations are concentrated in the east Lombok district, “so we decided to go north to visit and assess three villages [there].  These villages are all severely damaged by the earthquake as well but are given less attention so far.”

According to church volunteers, residents, and national agencies there is a huge need for tents and temporary shelters.  Many are injured and need medical attention, so there’s an immediate need for field hospital facilities, medical and surgical teams, medicines, hygiene kits, and water.  Affected families and children also need clothing, ready-to-eat food, and beddings.

ADRA Indonesia started constructing temporary shelters and giving out tents to evacuees. They also started distributing relief goods to affected families on Wednesday, August 8.

Indonesia is one of the many countries situated in the Pacific Ring of Fire, where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions frequently happen.

Meanwhile, more than 100 people went missing, an undetermined number of them presumed dead after an unfinished hydroelectric power dam collapsed in the province of Attapeu on August 6.  According to reports, the unfinished dam released a billion cubic meters of water destroying houses and leaving more than 6,000 families displaced.

Due to strong currents and flooding, hundreds of families are isolated and are still waiting for rescuers. Phone and electricity lines are down adding to the complexity of the situation.  Local officials are appealing to nearby communities for emergency aid such as clothing, food, drinking water, and medicine.

The Adventist Church in Laos and ADRA are currently assessing the situation to determine the best way to provide the much-needed help, and to prepare for the proper coordination of relief goods distribution to affected communities.