Caritas responds following Indonesia's Sunda Strait Tsunami

Four days after a tsunami, described by locals as a ‘wall of water,’ rolled over the community of the Sunda Strait in Western Indonesia, the Caritas international network, part of one of the largest humanitarian networks in the world, is on the ground responding with emergency assistance.

The tsunami, with waves of 30-90 cm, hit the coast of the Sunda Strait of Indonesia on the evening of 22 December 2018. The districts of Pandeglang, Serang and South Lampung suffered the most damage. Indonesian tsunamis are commonly triggered by earthquakes, making the impact of water caused by the eruption of the nearby Anak Krakatau volcano, particularly unexpected.

The tsunami has left 373 people dead, 1,459 injured, 128 missing, and 5,665 displaced. Moreover, about 681 houses, 68 hotels, buildings and other infrastructure have sustained severe damage.

“We are concerned that emergency teams have not yet reached all impacted areas, where there are no communications, and so even the full extent of the damage and lives lost isn’t yet known,” says Richard Forsythe, Caritas Australia’s Senior Programs Coordinator for Emergencies said.

Yanti Maulida, from the Research and Development department of Las Harfa, a Caritas Australia partner based in Pandeglang, Indonesia, spoke of the challenge of entering remote and affected communities.

“It’s difficult to enter the region because it’s quite far from any main roads, and roads themselves are damaged,” Ms Maulida says.

“We will make our best efforts to reach the victims. With our partners, like Caritas Australia, our disaster management response is stronger and this allows us to handle it together.”

With local partners like Las Harfa and CRS (Catholic Relief Services), Caritas is working with organisations like the Franciscan Mission Hospital of Lebak and the Archdiocese of Jakarta, having successfully delivered 1700 ready to eat food packs to affected communities.

Caritas and its partners are carrying out an emergency needs assessment, but the most pressing requirements at this time remain drinking water, medicines, food, and tents.

Australians can support the tsunami response via the Caritas Australia Asia Emergency Appeal.

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