• A 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck West Sulawesi province in Indonesia on Friday January 15.
• More than 40,000 people are displaced with many now in evacuation sites • The Mitra Mankarra District Hospital in Majene city has collapsed in addition to other buildings which have suffered heavy damages.
• Evacuation sites are underequipped for COVID-19 response.
• Yayasan Project HOPE’s Emergency Response Team is on the ground in West Sulawesi conducting a rapid assessment and beginning response operations.
On January 15 a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck West Sulawesi province, northeast of the city of Majene. The city reports heavy damage to structures including the Mitra Manakarra Hospital, which collapsed, and several health care centers (puskesmas). As of January 18, 84 people have been reported killed and 932 injured. More than 40,000 people are directly affected and displaced, with many now housed in 10 evacuation sites.i The largest evacuation site is Mankarra Stadium in nearby Mamuju where it is estimated more than 10,000 people are currently being sheltered.
Project HOPE’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) reports that since some of the region’s health facilities were built in low lying, coastal areas, the population is concerned about visiting them. Health teams establishing themselves following the earthquake have opted for operations on higher ground due to concerns of additional earthquakes and the potential for tsunamis. Health care teams are also primarily establishing outdoor clinics due to concern over the stability of buildings. In addition to injuries as a direct result of the earthquake, the ERT has received reports of health need including hypertension, dyspepsia, neuropathy, fevers and other cold symptoms.
Indonesia reported its highest single-day number of COVID-19 cases on January 16, confirming more than 14,200 cases.ii Prior to the earthquake the West Sulawesi region was already experiencing an increase in COVID-19 cases. The nearby Mamuju District Hospital reportedly went into lockdown a week before the earthquake after more than 75 staff tested positive for COVID-19. The ERT reports that the evacuation sites are not set up for effective social distancing, lack sufficient COVID-19 screening systems, and remain underequipped with personal protective equipment for both those residing in the camps as well as for administrators and camp medical staff. This dual crisis in West Sulawesi heightens the risk of a rapid increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks.
The ERT has also identified that primary sources of clean water have been damaged by the earthquake, leaving many without access to clean, potable water. Despite damage to local infrastructure electricity is being restored and fuel and gas suppliers have resumed operations.