Indonesia: World Vision emergency team covering two disasters in 24 hours

By World Vision staff

World Vision's emergency response staff in Indonesia are currently dealing with two disasters in less than twenty-four hours: the volcano eruption at Mount Merapi in Java and Monday's 7.2 earthquake in West Sumatra.

"Indonesia's location in the so-called 'Ring of Fire' means we're a prime target for natural disasters like these, but this is like déjà vu for our team," said Jimmy Nadapdap, World Vision's emergency response director in Indonesia. "Nearly one year ago, we were responding to earthquakes in both West Java and West Sumatra. However, those disasters were one month apart. I can't remember the last time our staff was dealing with two disasters in less than twenty-four hours."

On the island of Mentawai, West Sumatra, at least 108 people have died and more than 500 are missing after a 7.2 earthquake struck Monday at 9:42 p.m. local time. Eyewitnesses reported seeing a two-meter-high tsunami hit Sikakap Sub District and a five-meter-high tsunami on Pagai Selatan. World Vision's rapid response team deployed immediately to the site of the disaster, but high tides and strong waves have kept the team from being able to access the affected villages on Mentawai Island.

"The situation is very unpredictable right now, and nature is not cooperating with us," said Ita Balanda, a programme officer with World Vision in Indonesia. "We want to get help to these children and their families as quickly as possible, but it's still too dangerous to reach the island by boat."

Meanwhile, nearly 2,000 kilometers away in Java, a separate World Vision team is en route to the scene of the volcano eruption at Mount Merapi. The team will conduct a rapid assessment to determine the needs of those families who were evacuated from the area.

World Vision has pre-positioned emergency supplies like family kits (toothpaste, toothbrush, clothing, and blankets), baby kits (soap, diapers), tarpaulins and collapsible water containers to distribute following disasters like these. In addition, the team in Java has dispatched a plane with 15,000 breathing masks to distribute on the ground to those families in evacuation centers.