Indonesia Ready to Accept Foreign, Private Aid for Victims of Palu Earthquake, Tsunami


OCTOBER 01, 2018

Jakarta. Indonesia said it is ready to accept international aid to ease the suffering of victims of the massive earthquake and tsunami that hit Palu and Donggala in Central Sulawesi late last week.

A devastating magnitude-7.4 earthquake, followed by a 3-meter tsunami, hit the region on Friday evening (28/09), killing at least 832 people and injuring around 540. The authorities expect the death toll to rise dramatically as many are still trapped under the rubble, while some areas are still completely cut off. According to unconfirmed reports, the death toll had already risen to over 1,200 by Monday.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who visited the region on Sunday, has agreed to allow Indonesia's the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) to accept international aid, the agency's head, Thomas Lembong, said on Twitter on Monday.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who visited the region on Sunday have agreed to let its administration accepting international aid,  the head of the Indonesian investment board said on Twitter on Monday (01/10).

The South Korean Embassy in Jakarta said in a statement on Monday that the country would send aid worth $1 million to the area. The European Union said on Sunday that it had released €1.5 million ($1.7 million) in emergency aid for victims of the earthquake.

The European Commission also deployed a humanitarian expert to Palu to help coordinate the EU's relief efforts and made its emergency Copernicus satellite mapping service available to the Indonesian disaster mitigation team.

"We are acting fast to channel emergency aid to those most affected in Indonesia. Our funding will assist the most vulnerable and help provide essential supplies, such as food, shelter, water and sanitation and medical supplies," Christos Stylianides, EU commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management, said in the statement.

"This is EU solidarity in action. Our thoughts are with all the victims and first responders working around the clock to save lives," Stylianides said.

Neighboring countries, including Australia, Thailand and China have also offered help.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said the government had set aside Rp 560 billion ($37.6 million) for disaster relief in Palu.

Private Aid

The government has mobilized state-owned enterprises and private companies to help with the procurement of basic needs for the victims.

Telkom Indonesia and XL Axiata, the country's two largest mobile operators, have worked since Saturday to restore communications in the area.

State-controlled Bank Rakyat Indonesia and Bank Negara Indonesia have already delivered blankets, towels, clothing, tents, food and medicines worth more than Rp 200 million. BNI said some of its branches in the region would be ready to open on Monday.

The Lippo Group said in a statement that it has delivered food, drinking water and clothing worth more than Rp 365 million, collected from Unilever Indonesia, OrangTua Group, Sumber Pangan Sejahtera, Coca-Cola, Mayora, Indomarco, Artaboga and Matahari Department Store, to Palu and Donggala on Sunday.

National flag carrier Garuda Indonesia is providing free daily flights from Makassar to Palu for members of search and rescue teams, air traffic controllers and aircraft engineers.

State energy company Pertamina said it was airlifting 4,000 liters of fuel to the area to help with the rescue efforts, while state logistics agency Bulog said it was preparing to send in hundreds of tons of rice.

A Lippo Group truck preparing to transport food and clothing from Makassar to Palu on Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Lippo Group).

City in Ruins

Footage of Palu, the provincial capital, shows a sea of destruction, with a crumpled mess of houses, cars and trees mashed together, with rooftops and roads split asunder.

Officials say rescuers need heavy equipment to shift slabs of broken concrete but access to many areas has been hampered by damaged roads, landslides and collapsed bridges.

The National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) said one woman was rescued overnight in the neighborhood of Balaroa, near Palu, where houses were swallowed up when the earthquake caused soil liquefaction.

Most of the confirmed deaths were in Palu, a city of 379,000 people, where authorities were preparing a mass grave to bury some of the dead as soon as they were identified.

But nearly three days after the quake, the extent of the disaster has yet to be made clear with the authorities bracing for the death to toll to climb sharply as connections with remote areas up and down the coast are restored.

Of particular concern is Donggala, a region of 300,000 people north of Palu and close to the epicenter of the quake, and two other districts, which have been cut off from communications since Friday. Along with Palu, these districts have a combined population of about 1.4 million.

Additional reporting from Reuters