Image: Our partner organisation, PKPU, conducting search and rescue operations
Nanang Dirja Islamic Relief Indonesia, Country Director, said:
“Families are still extremely frightened – some have lost loved ones, others their homes – and the threat of further tsunamis, earthquakes or a more aggressive eruption by Anak Krakatau cannot be ruled out.
“While some people have started to go back, others are telling us they cannot yet face the reality of what they will find amidst the rubble of what was once their homes and their communities.
“Their last memory of the place their once called home was the harrowing sound of something speeding toward them from the darkness. Not everyone knew what they were running from, but everyone knew they had to run as fast as they could. The shock of it all will likely haunt people for years, if not the rest of their lives.
“My son was in the area, a popular weekend getaway for many Indonesians, when it happened. He ran for the hills, leaving all his belonging behind. I couldn’t get through to him or his friends for hours after. It was difficult to not think the worst.
“Thankfully he is safe at home now but it was a real reminder of the constant danger that millions of people in Indonesia face every single day as we simply go about our lives. Most of the time you push it to the back of your mind, but every so often you are forced to face our sheer fragility in the face of natural disasters like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
“This year alone, we have seen the Lombok earthquake in August in which more than 100 people died, the devastating Sulawesi earthquake and tsunami that claimed more than 2,000 lives, and now this latest tsunami in which a further 280 people have died. Tens of thousands have been injured and many more have lost their homes and been forcibly displaced.
“Islamic Relief Indonesia, alongside our local partners, has been on the ground in the wake of all of these disasters, helping to bring food and medicine in the first days and weeks after the tragedy and then moving on to do things like put up permanent shelters and reconstruct schools as the long-term needs become clear.
“We are currently bringing food, water, blankets and other basic supplies to those displaced by the weekend’s tsunami and will continue to support families in need in Tanjung Lesung-Benten province.
“Even as we do this, however, we have to stay constantly alert for new disasters and ensure that our teams are well prepared. As the people of Indonesia know all too well – serious calamities can happen at any time.”