Triple disaster in Indonesia leaves thousands homeless

08/11/2010

Catholic Mission Indonesian Disaster News Story
An orphaned survivor of the Indonesian triple disaster
Catholic Mission reports that more than 23,000 people are now homeless from Indonesia’s triple disaster this last week, with an earthquake, a tsunami and a volcanic eruption wiping out entire villages and leaving hundreds of people dead and missing.

“The figures of dead are 393, missing 332, displaced people 23,300. The villages hit by the tsunami are out of communication reach, and must be visited physically,” Padang Bishop Martinus Situmorang told Catholic Mission.

“Many villages, around 35, are badly damaged and heavily ruined or else mostly are wiped out, and villagers are on the higher ground with very limited facilities,” Bishop Situmorang said.

The tsunami, which followed a 7.7-magnitude earthquake, washed away villages on Mentawai islands in the Padang Diocese, west coast Sumatra, on Monday 26 October. Three days later, the Mount Merapi volcano erupted on the island of Java, with hot gas and ash posing a threat to local villagers.

“While 32 people lost their lives from the eruption of volcano Merapi, more than 5,000 have become refugees,” said Father Romanus Harjito O'Carm, National Director of Catholic Mission in Indonesia. “The death toll, the number of people missing and refugees will increase.”

The Catholic Church in Indonesia has been active in coordinating emergency relief. Urgent supplies have been shipped to Mentawai. Extra support will be needed for reconstructing houses, schools, churches and public facilities, but Bishop Situmorang expressed concern that sufficient funds would not be available.

“Hopefully aid will come soon, and consistently, for survival and living appropriately. We are still working on the damage created by the earthquake in Padang in September 2009. Many areas are not yet touched due to the need of funds. Life must go on. We do our best and hope for the divine providence.”

Catholic Mission’s National Director in Australia, Martin Teulan, has appealed for prayers for the people of Indonesia in this time of national crisis.

“The people of Indonesia are some of our closest neighbours, and today they need our support and prayers. They have been hit hard not just by one crisis but three. Hundreds have been killed. More than 23,000 people, the population of the whole town of Mt Isa in outback Australia, have lost or had to flee their homes,” Mr Teulan said.

Catholics make up only three per cent of the population, and the Indonesian Church is doing all it can to reach out to the communities affected, regardless of race or religion. Pray that people who have been injured or displaced will receive urgent aid, those who are missing will be found alive, and those who have lost loved ones will be supported in their grief.”

Last year, Catholic Mission supported the Church in Indonesia with more than $400,000 (AUD) in works with communities. A further $46,000 (AUD) is funding projects in the Padang Diocese to help children specifically. These include helping 750 children with medicine and school supplies after a previous earthquake forced their families to relocate, and constructing a school for 600 children of Christian and Muslim faiths in an area where no school exists.

SUPPORT BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER THE DISASTER: for more information phone 1800 257 296.

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