International Medical Corps is sending an emergency response team to Indonesia following a series of powerful earthquakes that struck the Indonesian island of Sulawesi on Friday, September 28. The largest quake, a powerful magnitude 7.5, shook the region at 5:02 p.m. local time, triggering a tsunami that hit nearby coastlines, including the coastal city of Palu. The massive earthquake was centered about 35 miles northeast of Donggala and 50 miles north of Palu, which have a combined population of more than 600,000 people. Immediate needs include evacuation, management of injuries, medical and health services, food and non-food items, and emergency shelter.
Initial reports indicate that dozens of buildings have collapsed, including houses and public facilities. Almost 400 people have died, with hundreds of severe injuries and thousands of people missing. Search, rescue and retrieval efforts are underway. According to Indonesia’s Indonesia National Board of Disaster Management (BNPB), Palu and Donggala are completely without power. In addition to power outages, the event has caused disruption on communication lines in some affected areas and the temporary closing of the main airport in the area, due to damage to its tower and runway. Local travel also has been affected, as damaged roads and bridges have made it extremely difficult to reach the most affected areas.
International Medical Corps first deployed to Indonesia in 2000, when we established an emergency healthcare program in North Maluku. We then expanded to other areas following crises in Maluku, West and Central Kalimantan, Madura Island, North and Central Sulawesi, and North Sumatra. In 2004, International Medical Corps was among the first international relief organizations to reach Indonesia’s hard-hit Aceh region following the giant Indian Ocean tsunami. We provided a broad range of healthcare services—including emergency medicine, trauma surgery, and maternal and child health—in some of the worst-hit communities of that disaster, which claimed approximately 230,000 lives across the Indian Ocean region.