Tsunami Strikes Indonesia
On Friday September 28, powerful earthquakes shook Indonesia, triggering a tsunami with ten-foot waves. The events devastated the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, killing over 1,580 while injuring and displacing thousands more. Homes, public buildings, roads, bridges—destroyed. Find all the facts you need to know about this horrific tragedy, including updates from our team on the ground.
Jump to the latest news and updates from our team on the ground
Get the Facts: What you need to know
Located in Southeast Asia, between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, consisting of more than 13,000 islands, Indonesia is the world’s largest island country. It is geographically prone to many different types of natural disasters, which pose a continuous threat to the 260 million children, women and men who live there.
Project HOPE has worked in Indonesia since 1960.
Earthquake and Tsunami: A deadly combination
On Friday September 28, 2018 at 5:02 PM local time, a massive earthquake measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale rocked the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Hundreds of aftershocks ranging from 2.9 to 6.3 in intensity were registered throughout the weekend. A massive tsunami followed, crashing onto the Sulawesi beaches, viciously sweeping away anything and everything in its path.
With waves as tall as 10ft, the tsunami slammed into buildings, burying people in the rubble. Survivors, unable to move under the weight of the remains of the collapsed buildings, have no choice but to wait for rescue crews that might not come in time. The raging currents swept many others to their deaths. Major landslides plowed down trees, crumbling buildings and tearing down communications towers, all the while shutting down many roads that were barely passable to begin with. Power outages and downed telecommunications are inhibiting regular information flow.
The full extent of the devastation is still unknown. Over 1,500 have died, thousands are injured, and many people are still unaccounted for across Sulawesi. The areas of Palu and Donggala were hit the hardest.
The situation in Palu, Indonesia is getting worse by the day. People are desperate.
… Hospitals are overwhelmed and damaged by the earthquake and patients are being treated outdoors because of structural damage.
… Boards are being used as splints to stabilize broken bones.
… Facing severe food shortages, survivors are looting shops and gas stations.
… With local communications networks down, people are frantically trying to contact friends and loved ones to ensure they are safe.
… Body bags in the streets.
… Young children who have lost both parents.
… Indonesian authorities are concerned about disease outbreaks resulting from decomposing corpses.
The situation is truly dire.
Project HOPE is responding
We’re deeply concerned about the human suffering in the aftermath of this natural disaster. Traveling by both air and sea, our medical team in Indonesia was one of the first to arrive in the hard-hit city of Palu. Our team carried in all the medical supplies and medicines they could, but the need is immense. We are committed to providing healthcare assistance where the need is greatest. We are operating a clinic in Dolo, and we will continue to assess health needs across all affected areas on the island and coordinate with local officials to ensure we are reaching those who need the most care.
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When you support our work with your generous gift, you enable us to send skilled, experienced responders when disasters strike. You help us purchase the supplies we need in-country, strengthening local businesses and helping economies stabilize. You ensure that, when we hear of a community in need that no one has reached, we have the resources required to go there and provide lifesaving assistance.
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Get the latest: News & updates from the field
The Project HOPE Indonesia team as well as everyone at headquarters and several other country offices, quickly mobilized to respond to the immeasurable medical needs that the deadly events of September 28 are calling for.
Stay in the loop of the latest news surrounding Project HOPE’s findings and response, and follow along as updates from our team on the ground steadily stream in.
Tuesday November 6, 2018
Since the earthquake, just over one month ago, HOPE has moved quickly to get local staff on the ground to respond to the health needs of these deeply impacted communities. With support from local volunteers, we have been able to address the needs of more than 3,300 patients and connect even more to needed tertiary care at local hospitals.
As the emergency response phase of our response to the earthquake begins to wind down, we are shifting our focus to improving the long-term health opportunities for the people of Central Sulawesi.
Monday October 15, 2018
Meet Indonesian emergency room nurse and Disaster and Crisis Management Coordinator, Ibu Rizka.
When disaster strikes, local health care workers who serve their communities are true heroes. Often, they’re affected by the tragedy just as much as anybody else in the community. Their hometowns in ruins, their houses destroyed, their belonging lost, their family members injured, missing, or worse. But the urgent medical needs following a disaster call on them to summon up the courage to stand tall and confront the crisis. Emergency responders like Rizka know their life saving knowledge and skills are critical in times of dire need. Rizka was one of two nurses who returned to the Dolo Community Health Clinic where Project HOPE has been working. She has been instrumental in the success of Project HOPE’s response to the devastating earthquake and tsunami, meeting patients and arranging visits to nearby towns and villages to assess medical needs and provide in-home medical services to people unable to reach the clinic.
“After the earthquake and tsunami, I first made sure that my family was safe. During the earthquake, I started to evacuate people in my area. I ran to the health center to grab everything that I would need. The next day I went back to get medicines and supplies to provide care in my area.”
Read more about Rizka’s experience of being a front-line health worker in the midst of an overwhelming catastrophe here
Wednesday October 10, 2018
Just over ¼ of the staff at the Dolo clinic have returned to work following the destructive events of September 28th. We recently learned that the entire staff survived the earthquake but that many remain close with their families and are beginning to rebuild. A few have fled the area in search of shelter after their homes were completely destroyed.
Across the region, healthcare workers are slowly reassuming their communal roles, but many remain shaken by the past week and a half. Our local medical experts report seeing both patients and health care workers suffering from the immense stress and anxiety that have overtaken their lives. Some amidst ongoing aftershocks have taken to not entering buildings, even sturdy ones.
Throughout Palu and Sigi many have been forced to use what little water is available despite the risk of illnesses from unclean water. This challenge is especially acute in more rural villages and in the camps set up for those with nowhere else to go.
As hope of finding people alive amidst the destruction of the earthquake and tsunami fades, the Indonesian government has announced that search and rescue operations will end tomorrow.
Find out more about the situation on the ground in our most recent situation report
Sunday October 7, 2018
Hundreds of homes have been swallowed by soil and mud in Palu, Sigi and the surrounding regions. The emotional and physical trauma of the Indonesian people is severe. Beyond the bodily and mental strain, many still face a lack of basic necessities, including safe drinking water. The situation in Indonesia remains far from normal and people are still struggling to recover from the aftermath left behind by the devastating earthquake and tsunami a week ago.
Project HOPE is on the ground with 3 medical teams trying to ease the anguish from loss of loved ones, homes and physical pain by going door-to-door. Our reopened clinic in the village of Dolo, is a glimmer of hope for those seeking medical attention and medicines.
Friday October 5, 2018
Over the last 24 hours the situation on the ground has changed immensely. Health posts throughout Palu and Sigi are now covered by medical teams and 11 hospitals in Palu are now operational, though thousands are still in need of immediate care. Project HOPE has committed to running the clinic in Dolo for at least another month.
“Many people we see are still in shock and struggling. We’re also seeing a lot of upper respiratory tract infections and hypertension. Our medical team is here to help ease this burden and give people an opportunity to talk, address their health concerns and receive much needed medicines.”
Read more in our press release regarding Project HOPE’s response to the spike in health needs
Our team in Sigi saw 66 patients today including door-to-door visits in the nearby village of Langaleso. The earthquake hit the village hard and medical support had yet to arrive. Many suffered from anxiety, chronic diseases untreated since the earthquake and injuries caused by the earthquake and its ensuing tsunami.
In Langaleso, a water sanitation expert, from the Polytechnic Health School in Manado, joined our team to help us address the need for clean water. Many in the region still lack access to clean water and the demand for WASH kits and water purification tablets is growing.
Thursday October 4, 2018
In Palu, we have learned that electricity is slowly coming back and that some small markets are beginning to reopen. Outside Palu, the situation remains more dire. In Sigi, just to the south of Palu, there are only two open health clinics for the region of more than 210,000 residents. Yesterday, our team on the ground agreed to open a third.
This morning, our emergency response team reopened the Dolo Community Health Center in the Sigi region just south of Palu, making it the third clinic to reopen in the Sigi region since the earthquake nearly a week ago.
Our team is working with just 2 of the clinic’s 82 staff, as many remain caring for their families, homes and neighbors in the wake of the earthquake. It is our hope that we can bring them back to work alongside our team to restore the clinic and the population it serves. The Dolo clinic, normally treats a population of about 20,000 across 15 villages, but as locals fled the destruction it is unclear how many more may now be residing in the region. In our first day at the clinic, medical staff, consisting of 4 physicians and 6 nurses, served 72 patients, many in the front yard of the center as a fear of aftershocks continues. Patients showed signs of chronic conditions, such as hypertension, that have remained untreated since the earthquake as well as the impact of psychological and emotional stress.
Wednesday October 3, 2018
When they arrived in Palu, our team, which includes experienced veterans of many other humanitarian crises, was stunned at the scale of destruction. Vlatko Ezevski is an experienced emergency responder who has seen a lot of human suffering in the aftermath of a natural disaster up close. Regardless, Vlatko is astonished by the level of destruction and desolation he is finding in Palu.
I’ve been to many disasters as an emergency responder, but this one is definitely one of the worst. And this is just Palu. I can’t even imagine the situation in other cities.
We asked Vlatko to provide a full first impression of the crisis upon arriving in Palu.
Click here to read his thoughts in full.
People in Indonesia need help now. We are there to deliver HOPE. You can help.
Tuesday October 2, 2018
Our full emergency response team (ERT) arrived on the ground in Palu. Getting to Palu proved challenging and had required the use of planes, boats and support from local authorities.
At the airport, the ERT was met by a military ambulance that drove them into the city to set up a base of operations. Our team reported never having witnessed destruction on this scale. HOPE is one of the first international NGOs to get a team on the ground.
Tuesday October 2, 2018
In the evening Project HOPE released its first situation report on the rapidly evolving crisis. Key takeaways from the report include:
- Some hospitals have been destroyed, while those that continue to function are overwhelmed and many are facing power outages.
- Indonesian authorities are concerned about diseases outbreaks resulting from decomposing corpses and have started digging mass graves for victims who have been identified.
- The full extent of damage to WASH infrastructure is not clear; however, initial reports suggest water pipes have been badly damaged and power outages are resulting in waste treatment plant malfunctions.
- President Jokowi declared that Indonesia is open to foreign aid for the earthquake, but a formal declaration of national disaster has not yet been issued.
Our full situation report can be found here.
Tuesday October 2, 2018
- More than 1.5 million people affected
- More than 1,200 people were killed
- 64,000 people are displaced
- As access to the affected areas improve, these numbers are expected to rise
- Power outages and downed telecommunications are inhibiting information flow
Monday October 1, 2018
Our Emergency Response Team is now on their way to Makassar, Indonesia, the city with the closest functional airport to Palu and a staging ground for many government and NGO response teams. The team is coordinating with the BNPB (Provincial Office for Disaster Management) and other response agencies to form a strong united response. Late in the day, Vlatko, Sushanty, and Dr. Alia managed to obtain tickets for a flight to Palu and will arrive in Palu tomorrow.
The team is traveling with as many medical supplies as they can transport with them and have arranged to meet with the health cluster on the ground in Palu shortly after arriving.
Sunday September 30, 2018
Photographer Ronny has arrived in Palu and shares the first images depicting the severity of the destruction the earthquake and tsunami caused.
Sunday September 30, 2018
We receive the first update from the field.
The team lead for the Emergency Response Team (ERT) shares her initial findings.
Take a look at what she describes she is seeing, below.
Saturday September 29, 2018, 11:29 AM EST
Project HOPE’s Regional Director of the Balkans and Technical Lead of the Emergency Response Team, Vlatko Uzevski M.D., is on his way to Palu and sends us an update of his progress and plan for the next couple of days. He will be flying to Makassar on flight GA 618, operated by Garuda Indonesia. From there on, if all goes as planned, he will fly to Palu on flight IW 2148 operated by Wings Air together with Project HOPE Indonesia country Representative and Emergency Response Team Lead Sushanty, as well as licensed medical practitioner Dr. Alia. When they arrive in Palu, they will meet up with photographer Ronny Adolof Buol. Once they reach Palu, their main goals will be to start treating patients immediately and connect with other organizations to assess the possibilities to partner.
Saturday September 29, 2018
Project HOPE releases a statement, announcing that we are deploying a medical team to the island of Sulawesi to address urgent health needs following the deadly earthquake and tsunami the day before.
Sunday September 29, 2018
We are in contact with photographer Ronny Adolof Buol, who is en route to Palu. He was on Sulawesi Island when the earthquake and tsunami struck and had been walking for two days already. As we get in touch with him, he is traveling hundreds of miles to Palu by motorcycle. Many roads are impassible for cars and gasoline is hard to come by. Communication is hindered by the unreliable celular signal. Ronny is about halfway through his 1100 kilometer (683 miles) trip to Palu, when he sends us this photo of a coffee break. 450 km left to get to Palu.
Friday September 28, 2018
Project HOPE releases a statement, sharing that we have begun monitoring the impact of the earthquakes and tsunami that shook Indonesia earlier that day.