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Charities respond to the Indonesia earthquake

As Australia pledges a $5 million aid package to the Indonesian government, foreign aid charities have stepped up support in affected areas

Australian aid charities have pledged their support to the Indonesian people affected by the deadly earthquake and tsunami.

This comes as Australia commits an additional $5 million aid package to support the Indonesian government, on top of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement of an initial $500,000 to the Indonesian Red Cross and 50 medical professionals.

“The Australian government stands with the Indonesian government in offering support to the people of Indonesia affected by this tragedy,” Morrison said.

The magnitude 7.7 earthquake struck just off the coast of Donggala in Central Sulawesi which triggered the tsunami. More than 1,200 deaths have been reported, prompting Australia to send emergency healthcare support, with more aid expected.

World Vision Australia launched an appeal for the millions affected by the devastation as the organisation rushed to provide emergency assistance.

World Vision Chief Advocate, Tim Costello, said local staff were on the ground, adding: “Clearly this is going to require a massive response for some time to come but making sure the survivors have their immediate needs met with adequate shelter, food and water will be critical over the coming days and weeks.”

World Vision Indonesia staff on the ground are attempting to locate the more than 1,650 children sponsored by Australian families in the regions affected by the disaster. Humanitarian aid experts are also assessing the scale of the disaster to expand aid.

This, however, has been made difficult by the changes in environment, including the loss of communications in the affected areas.

“The remoteness of the area and loss of communication infrastructure continues to make it difficult for Indonesian authorities to assess the full scale of the disaster,” Morrison said in a joint statement with Foreign Aid Minister, Marise Payne, and Defence Minister, Christopher Pyne.

Payne told reports in Washington: “We will be working very closely with the Indonesian government to make sure that the support we are providing is highly targeted.

“I understand that there are significant challenges from liquidation, so solid earth turning effectively into quicksand. This makes movement and engagement difficult.”

Caritas Australia’s Senior Programs Co-Ordinator for Emergencies, Richard Forsythe, said the communication losses and terrain issues were halting the emergency aid.

“We are concerned that emergency teams have not yet reached all impacted areas, where there are no communications, and so the extent of the damage and lives lost isn’t yet known,” Forsythe said.

Country Manager for Caritas Australia partner, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Yenni Suryani, added that getting access to affected areas has been problematic.

“Responders and local aid groups are having to drive overland for 10 to 12 hours. This means a bottleneck for relief supplies in coming days.

“Those long hours on the road are going to mean hours lost in getting assistance to people who need it in the next few days. Another option will be sea routes. The Ministry of Transportation is sending in relief by ship from North Sulawesi.”

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