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Responders face Indonesian challenges

As faith-based organizations respond to devastating earthquake, shortages of medicine and water reported.

BY ZACHARY HOFFMAN | BALTIMORE | October 5, 2009

The death toll reported from West Sumatra, Indonesia, has climbed to 608 with thousands more missing after the earthquake last week. Those who survived the quake are now running out of clean water, food and shelter, and doctors are running out of medicine to treat the thousands injured, according to the National Emergency Management Agency in Jakarta.

The United Nations is working closely with the Indonesian government to coordinate the aid that has come in from numerous countries. The UN is providing heavy equipment to search for survivors trapped by the earthquake as well as health kits and school tents to survivors.

International faith-based relief organizations in the United States have also responded to the needs of the people in Indonesia.

Actions by Churches Together (ACT) is sending medical personnel and equipment to help treat the thousands injured in Padang, Indonesia.

“Hospitals throughout Padang city were severely damaged, including Padang’s largest and only hospital with full surgery facilities. Patients are being treated in the hallways due to overcrowding, and an open-air morgue has been set up outside the hospital. Water supplies in the region are down, with repairs not expected to start until next week,” reported a statement posted on Presbyterian Disaster Assistance’s (PDA) Website. PDA is one of a number of U.S. organizations that partner with ACT.

Church World Service (CWS) has an Indonesian office and has responded by distributing initial non-food aid to those affected by the quakes, including family tents, blankets, tarpaulins, plastic mats, relief kits and baby kits through its local staff and partners, according to CWS.

"With pre-positioned supplies, we've been able to expedite getting initial relief to survivors," said Church World Service Indonesia Director Michael Koeniger from Jakarta.

The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) and the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) are working through their partners in Indonesia to monitor the needs of survivors and provide food, water and shelter where needed.

On September 30, a magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck off the coast of West Sumatra devastating an expanse greater than 60 miles on the coast of West Sumatra. The quake damaged more than 100,000 buildings and has trapped thousands of people within the rubble.

The earthquake’s epicenter was located along the same fault line that spurred the 2004 Asian Tsunami that killed more than 130,000 people in Southeast Asia. No tsunamis were reported from this event.

Just a few weeks before Sumatra was struck, an earthquake devastated the island of Java in Indonesia.

A typhoon has also killed hundreds of people across Southeast Asian nations.


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