NCC/ERP Situation Report: East Asia Floods/Landslides

News and Press Release
Originally published
Church World Service is the Relief and Development Agency of the 36 member denominations of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.

36 Denominations & Communions Working Together to Meet Human Needs

SITUATION: At least 35 people have died from landslides and floods that have struck Nias island in Indonesia, located about 800 miles northwest of the capital of Jakarta. Some 200 villagers remain missing on the island, which is located off of the west coast of Sumatra. The landslides and floods, occurring this week, have affected the island's mountainous interior. At least 1,500 people are now reported homeless. Nias is largely Christian in what is a predominantly Muslim nation; it has little infrastructure and officials said it may take some time for assistance to reach survivors.

Meanwhile, at least 77 people have died on Taiwan following Typhoon Toraji earlier this week; more than 100 people remain missing. The typhoon struck Taiwan's eastern coast and central mountains, causing floods and landslides.

According to a report in the Taiwan Church News, the flooding and landslides were the worst since 1959 and affected areas already hit by the September 1999 earthquake and an August 2000 typhoon. The report, written by David Alexander, a missionary for the Reformed Church in America (RCA), said all roads into the town of Ji-ji, the epicenter of the 1999 earthquake, were swept away. Emergency services personnel have been unable to enter the area to provide rescue and relief.

"The zone is particularly susceptible to landslides because of its rugged terrain and the aftereffects of the quake," the report said. "The soil and rock that was loosened in 1999 but did not slide into valleys is laden and lubricated by the rain waters and comes down. When streambeds fill with solid matter water overflows the banks."

Officials in both Indonesia and Taiwan have said deforestation contributed to the landslides.

RESPONSE: CWS-Indonesia staff are conducting an initial assessment on Nias island to determine a possible CWS response; Yayasan Tanggul Bencana (YTB), the emergency unit of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia (CCI), a member of the Action by Churches Together (ACT) International network, is providing food assistance to disaster survivors.

On Taiwan, the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, a CWS partner, has responded with shelter assistance and has begun initial assessments. The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan is one of several religious and volunteer organizations still in the area operating rebuilding centers in the wake of the 1999 earthquake. CWS is in contact with the Presbyterian Church on Taiwan about a possible response there.

Call the CWS HOTLINE for updates: (800) 297-1516.

For further information about disasters to which Church World Service is responding, contact CWS Emergency Response: Telephone: (212) 870-3151
After-hours emergency pager: (800) 780-0853
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