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Indonesia quake response rapid

Within hours after a powerful earthquake killed more than 3,500 people in Indonesia, faith-based groups were responding.


Within hours after a powerful earthquake killed more than 3,500 people in Indonesia, faith-based groups were responding.

The magnitude-6.3 quake hit early Saturday morning while most people were still sleeping. At least 3,400 were injured, according to reports from the Indonesian Red Cross.

Worst-hit was Bantul, where 80 percent of homes were destroyed. More than 2,000 deaths occurred in that area alone.

Power and telephones were out across much of the region.

Many faith-based disaster response groups were responding within hours after the quake struck.

The Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) was working with one of its primary Indonesia partners, the YAKKUM Emergency Unit (YEU). YEU has been involved in evacuating injured children to Tegalyoso hospital in Klaten. Other MCC partners will likely be involved in trauma healing.

Catholic Relief Services was also working with local partners to distribute shelter material for those left homeless. CRS - like other faith-based responders - has been working with its partners in the region to pre-position resources in the event of the eruption of Mt. Merapi, which has been rumbling for weeks.

Members of Action by Churches Together were working together to coordinate response.

Church World Service (CWS) has a long-standing presence in the region. Two CWS staff members were in Yogyakarta when the earthquake hit, as CWS has been distributing aid to evacuees of the Merapi volcano in the last few weeks.

On Saturday morning, the CWS team distributed 500 blankets to Bethesda Hospital in Yogyakarta. The team did a rapid assessment in one of the four districts of Bantul and reported a need for tents, hygiene kits, baby kits and health kits. CWS reported late Saturday that it will try to transport tents, hygiene kits, health kits and baby kits from Medan to Solo, as the Yogyakarta airport is still closed. It will also distribute 500 food packages and water on Sunday when other sub-districts of Bantul are visited.

A water and sanitation expert from ACT member Norwegian Church Aid who is working in Meulaboh will join a CWS water and sanitation expert stationed in West Timor.

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) also has emergency response teams on the ground. "ADRA workers in Indonesia are working with local partners to provide immediate shelter, and urgently-needed medical teams are on the way to take care of the injured," said Frank Teeuwen, ADRA International's bureau chief for emergency management.

Baptist World Aid is also responding with medical teams, as well as other kinds of emergency relief.

The quake is Indonesia's worst disaster since the 2004 tsunami. To heighten residents' anxiety, Indonesia is also coping with the threat of eruption from Mount Merapi, as well as a bird flu outbreak.

The quake's epicenter was 50 miles south of the Merapi volcano. The temblor was six miles below the earth's surface.

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