Thursday, 13 September 2007

Earthquake in Southern Sumatra

I have played a support role to the Indonesian Red Cross response to the earthquakes that struck Indonesia’s Sumatera Island since Wednesday, 12 September 2007.
The first occurred at 18.10 local time, measuring 8.4 on the Richter scale, with its epicentre located at 4.517° south and 101.382° east, 130 km south west of the province’s capital Bengkulu. Potential tsunami alert message was issued by BMG (Badan Meteorologi dan Geofisika/Meteorology and Geophysics Agency), but was revoked within the next two hours after the first quake.

Several aftershocks were reported with magnitude varying between 5.2 – 5.7 on the Richter Scale along the west coast of Bengkulu, with the largest one being a 7.8 Richter scale quake which occurred on Thursday, 13 September at 06.49 local time. The epicentre is located at 2.526° south and 100.964° east, 185 kilometres south east of Padang, West Sumatera, The BMG office also issued a tsunami watch but again lifted it within a few hours.
Late last night, Thursday 13 Sept., another earthquake occured just before midnight near Bengkulu. It measured 6.8 and a Tsunami warning was issued.
Indonesian Red Cross, PMI, assessment teams (which includes Fachri our DM manager) continued their assessment at first light this morning.
As an initial response, locally, PMI volunteers have been dispatched to assist with evacuation processes. In Padang, PMI have established an emergency health post in cooperation with ORARI (Organisasi Radio Amatir Indonesia/Indonesian Amateur Radio Organisation). They have also erected four emergency health posts nearby M. Yunus hospital in Bengkulu to assist with the handling of patients and mobilized three ambulances to assist with evacuation on the field.

The PMI Headquarters has started to send resources from Jakarta to the PMI Chapter in Bengkulu, such as 1,000 standard earthquake medical packages (consisting of, among others, anti septic solution, bandages/tourniquets, etc.) and 2,000 tarpaulins. Additionally, a number of 1,500 hygiene kits and 150 family kits have been be disbursed from the PMI’s warehouse in Padang, West Sumatera.
The national Red Cross coordination centre is next to my office in Jakarta and it is impressive to watch staff and volunteers collecting information, contacting remote communities and building up a picture of the damage and the needs. using the latest satellite technology, the are able to zoom in to the remotest island and locate even the smallest community and to guide assessment teams to those spots. They work round the clock with fresh batches of staff and volunteers coming in to relief exhausted workers when required. The Indonesian Red Cross at community level is responding quickly and meeting rescue, first and and medical needs, and providing tarpaulins.

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