Indonesia

Relief teams reach remote Indonesian Island

Format
Situation Report
Source
Posted
Originally published
Written by Christina Ward Staff Writer, DisasterRelief.org, with news reports
Rescue workers on the Indonesian island of Nias have located some of the hundreds of people who were missing after deadly flash floods and landslides struck the region earlier this week. On Thursday (Aug. 2), two days after the disaster, officials said many villagers fled to safety in the hills when the flooding began. More than 60 people have been confirmed dead, and about 200 others remain missing.

After three days of nonstop rain, compounded by three earthquakes with magnitudes between 5.3 and 5.4 on the Richter scale, severe floods and landslides hit Nias early Tuesday morning (July 30) when most residents were still asleep.

The remote island is located in the Indian Ocean west of Sumatra, about 825 miles (1,335 km) from the capital, Jakarta. Widespread damage and the island's isolated location prevented rescue teams from reaching the region for hours. Many villages were still inaccessible on Thursday, authorities reported.

"I do not have details on where the missing people are from, but efforts are still going on to locate them," Chaerul Buhari, a spokesman in North Sumatra, told Agence France-Presse. He said floodwaters had dropped up to 4 meters in most areas, leaving mud-covered homes and roads to dig through.

North Sumatra governor Rizal Nurdin traveled to the main Nias town of Gunungsitoli by special plane on Thursday with cash aid. Noodles, sugar, dried fish and medicine were en route by boat, Buhari said.

Initially, as many as 1,000 villagers were unaccounted for and feared dead. But approximately 600 were found alive on Wednesday, the BBC reported. At least 1,500 people were left homeless.

Although Nias, known for its pristine beaches and large waves, is a popular destination for surfers and other foreign tourists, local officials said the areas affected by the floods and landslides were not typical tourist areas. No tourists have been reported killed, according to Reuters.

The island has little infrastructure to begin with, and many interior roads and bridges were destroyed in the storm, further hampering relief efforts. There is only one small airstrip on the island, and boats must travel at least 8 hours from the nearest port on Sumatra.

Lahusa subdistrict in Nias suffered the most damage, according to initial information. Flash floods destroyed the main bridge connecting Lahusa to other Nias districts, so the full extent of damage remains unknown.

Additional rescue teams with shipments of food and medical supplies were traveling by plane to the island from Medan, the provincial capital of North Sumatra, on Thursday.

Indonesia has appealed for international aid. The Indonesian Red Cross is responding to the disaster, with the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The International Federation has a pre-existing delegation in Indonesia, which assists local Red Cross workers with organizational development and disaster response.

DisasterRelief.org is a unique partnership between the American Red Cross, IBM and CNN dedicated to providing information about disasters and their relief operations worldwide. The three-year-old website is a leading disaster news source and also serves as a conduit for those wishing to donate to disaster relief operations around the globe through the international Red Cross movement.

American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. To help the victims of disaster, you may make a secure online credit card donation or call 1-800-HELP NOW (1-800-435-7669) or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Or you may send your donation to your local Red Cross or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013.

The American Red Cross is dedicated to helping make families and communities safer at home and around the world. The Red Cross is a volunteer-led humanitarian organization that annually provides almost half the nation's blood supply, trains nearly 12 million people in vital life-saving skills, mobilizes relief to victims in more than 60,000 disasters nationwide, provides direct health services to 2.5 million people, assists international disaster and conflict victims in more than 20 countries, and transmits more than 1.4 million emergency messages to members of the Armed Forces and their families. If you would like information on Red Cross services and programs please contact your local Red Cross.

=A9 Copyright 2001, The American National Red Cross. All Rights Reserved.

DisasterRelief
DisasterRelief.org is a unique partnership between the American Red Cross, IBM and CNN dedicated to providing information about disasters and their relief operations worldwide. The three-year-old website is a leading disaster news source and also serves as a conduit for those wishing to donate to disaster relief operations around the globe through the international Red Cross movement. American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. To help the victims of disaster, you may make a secure online credit card donation or call 1-800-HELP NOW (1-800-435-7669) or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Or you may send your donation to your local Red Cross or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013. The American Red Cross is dedicated to helping make families and communities safer at home and around the world. The Red Cross is a volunteer-led humanitarian organization that annually provides almost half the nation's blood supply, trains nearly 12 million people in vital life-saving skills, mobilizes relief to victims in more than 60,000 disasters nationwide, provides direct health services to 2.5 million people, assists international disaster and conflict victims in more than 20 countries, and transmits more than 1.4 million emergency messages to members of the Armed Forces and their families. If you would like information on Red Cross services and programs please contact your local Red Cross. © Copyright, The American National Red Cross. All Rights Reserved.