Al-Imdaad Foundation’s relief team has been on the ground on the Indonesian Island of Sulawesi after a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck the island on Friday September 28th, 2018. The Foundation’s team members have been conducting assessments and accompanying search and rescue teams as well as implementing initial-phase aid distributions. The Island of Sulawesi was struck by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake as well as a massive tsunami with waves up to 6 metres high which added further devastation to coastal areas. The city of Donggala, just 30 km north of the earthquake’s epicenter and the provincial capital, Palu, are amongst the worst affected locations.
Team leader and Al-Imdaad Foundation trustee, Qari Ziyaad Patel and other team members from South Africa and Indonesia, gained access to the worst affected areas of Sulawesi Island after the reopening of the Palu airport. The airport had earlier been closed because of looting and instability. Land routes had also been blocked off by mudslides and other obstructions making access very difficult.
Qari Ziyaad Patel explained that the looting had continued until additional military and police deployments were able to reestablish stability and the airport was subsequently reopened. He added that he had experienced a similar situation in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, commenting that it was human nature to take extreme measures when survival is threatened.
When Al-Imdaad Foundation’s team arrived in the city of Palu, they witnessed widespread destruction during assessments in the Balaroa residential area as well as on Talise beach. Balaroa was the site of the phenomenon of soil liquification where solid earth had turned to the consistency of liquid, wreaking havoc to everything above ground.
Commenting on the soil liquification, Patel said, “even geologists were puzzled by the phenomenon”.
The Al-Imdaad Foundation team spent part of their first day assisting emergency rescue services and Indonesian military personnel who were retrieving bodies from under the rubble. Patel explained that the combination of earthshaking, soil liquification and the water from the tsunami meant that it was highly unlikely that any survivors would now be found. Even those that may have survived under rubble would likely have drowned in the waters from the tsunami.
Patel also compared the experience to his time in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake saying, “I thought I had seen enough in Haiti, but this is on an unprecedented scale. The hardest was seeing corpses and assisting with the retrieval of bodies”. By Friday, October 5th, 2018, the Indonesian Disaster Management Authority (BNPD) reported a death toll of 1571 with over 2,549 injuries, 113 missing persons, and recovery efforts still underway. Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla had earlier warned that the final toll could reach into the thousands as numerous smaller towns were still cut-off.
Authorities also report that more than 70000 people have been displaced with over 66000 homes damaged and almost 200,000 in urgent need of assistance. Al-Imdaad Foundation teams witnessed many of these displaced people living in makeshift structures around the city of Palu and facing severe shortages in basic-essentials.
On Friday, October 5th, the Al-Imdaad Foundation team was able to begin initial aid distributions for these communities including basic food items such as cooking oil, tinned fish, rice and noodles. Qari Ziyaad Patel will remain on the ground to continue these relief activities as part of the Al-Imdaad Foundation’s initial response, over the next few days.
The Foundation will also address the needs of victims going forward through its Indonesian office and further teams may also be mobilized in the coming weeks to continue the response. To support these emergency relief efforts please call 01254 698771 or donate online at www.alimdaad.co.uk