Oxfam and its local partners are standing by to deploy emergency staff and resources to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, as an estimated 1.5 million people are thought to be affected by the massive earthquake and tsunami that hit on Friday.
The death toll stands at 830 confirmed fatalities, but this number is expected to increase.
Ancilla Bere, Oxfam’s Humanitarian Manager in Indonesia, said: “It is likely that thousands of people across a large area will need urgent help after this powerful earthquake and tsunami.
“Oxfam is provisionally planning a response to reach 100,000 people in Palu city and Donggala district. This is likely to focus on the immediate needs such as ready-to-eat meals, water purification kits and emergency shelters.”
Initial reports suggest that at least 16,732 people were forced from their homes and are scattered across 23 sites, although this number is likely to rise. The main road linking the city of Palu to the rest of Central Sulawesi has been blocked by a landslide and the airport in Palu is operating at half capacity, making access difficult.
“Access and communication remains a big concern with a key road cut off by a landslide and other infrastructure badly damaged. It is encouraging to hear that the Indonesian Armed Forces has mobilised military aircraft and helicopters to reach people in affected areas.”
Oxfam New Zealand’s Executive Director Rachael Le Mesurier said there were grave concerns the death toll could increase as new areas were accessed.
“Our thoughts are with the people of Indonesia after this terrible disaster,” Le Mesurier said.
“Worryingly, communications with the district of Donggala, which is closer to the epicentre of the earthquake, have been difficult making it hard to assess damage and the number of casualties. There are fears the death toll could rise as more information comes in.
“In an emergency like this, once Oxfam’s partners know it’s safe to do so, they would be looking at providing access to safe water if infrastructure is damaged, as in many cases like this, water supplies could be contaminated.
“Other priorities are emergency medical and health shelter, and food.”
For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:
Kelsey-Rae Taylor | Kelsey-Rae.Taylor@oxfam.org.nz | 021 298 5894