An entire village was obliterated by the tsunami that hit Sulawesi on 28 September, Red Cross search and rescue teams discovered today.
Indonesian Red Cross disaster responders who reached Petobo, on the borders of Palu and Sigi found that the village – which was home to almost 500 people – no longer existed. The bodies of 14 people have been recovered and the search will continue today.
Iris van Deinse, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) communications delegate in Palu, was with the team that reached Petobo. She said: “Red Cross responders are pushing their way through debris and damaged roads to reach new areas and try to help the survivors, and they are finding devastation and tragedy everywhere.
“When we arrived in Petobo, we found that it had been wiped off the map by the power of the tsunami.
“We’re doing everything we can to bring medical treatment, clean water and support to the worst-affected areas. The survivors of this disaster have lost loved ones, homes and livelihoods. We cannot let them lose hope as well,” said van Deinse.
Access has been hampered by the destruction of roads and bridges across the affected areas. To speed up the relief effort, the Indonesian Red Cross has emptied five of its warehouses and loaded equipment and goods onto three ships, the first of which is expected to arrive tomorrow and offload seven water trucks, five field kitchens, 947 baby kits, 10,000 mosquito nets, 650 mattresses, 3,700 hygiene kits, 12 tents, and 300 body bags.
An Indonesian Red Cross team reached the Sigi area on Monday 1 October. Among many individual scenes of loss and horror, search and rescue teams found the bodies of 34 students who were attending a Bible camp when the disaster struck.
Medical teams have set up mobile health clinics in Palu, Donggala and Sigi, where doctors are treating mostly women and children suffering from open wounds, broken bones, and bruises. Medics are reporting a rise in the number of cases of diarrhea, stomach problems and flu linked to survivors sleeping in the streets without access to clean water.
The most urgent needs are search and rescue, medical care for survivors, food – including baby food – shelter, and clean water. Also needed are tarpaulins, blankets, health services, and communications lines to contact families and relatives.
At least 1,407 people were killed and more than 2,500 have been injured in the disaster. IFRC is appealing for 22 million Swiss francs to support 160,000 people affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Sulawesi, and the series of earthquakes on the island of Lombok.