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Wednesday, 13 April 2005

Update on Indonesia's current earthquake zone

On Sunday April 10th an earthquake measuring 6.7 on the Richter Scale was recorded 120 kilometers south west of the Sumateran city of Padang. Located close to the Mentawai Islands, this recent earthquake lies in the same fault line as the March 28th earthquake (registering 8.7) and the December 26th earthquake and consequent tsunami (registering 9.0). This is a highly unstable region with 5 earthquakes registering above 6 in the past 5 days.

No reports have been received as yet from the the remote Mentawai Islands concerning damage or loss of life. Meanwhile the latest report from Nias indicates the number of dead resulting from the March 28th earthquake is around 1,500 people. Approximately 5,000 people have injuries while 71,000 people are homeless. Following the March 28th earthquake, the local hospital in Gunungsitoli collapsed and the local airport was severely damaged. Schools, government buildings, churches and mosques were severely damaged or destroyed. Around 80% of the major town, Gunungsitoli, has been severely damaged with other major centres suffering similar levels of damage. Acess to Nias is via a 12 hour ferry trip from Sibolga on the island of Sumatera. Roads and major bridges in Nias have been destroyed while electricity and telephone lines are down. Hundreds of people are fleeing Nias each day on the ferry due to food shortages and the fear of futher devastating earthquakes.

Uniting Church Overseas Aid sent $A.10,000 to Nias on 6th April. This was in response to a call from the Protestant Christian Church in Nias for emergency humanitarian assistance. The Uniting Church in Australia is also contributing to the relief effort in Nias through ACT International. This is an ecumenical emergency humanitarian relief agency. Implementnig partners in Nias include Church World Service, Yayasan Tanggul Bencana (YTB) and Yakkum Energency Unit (YEU).

Today, April 12th, Rev Yono Abadi from the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania left for Medan in Indonesia. Rev Abadi will travel to Nias to visit local churches and to demonstrate our concern to those who are suffering in the region. Rev Abadi will also gather further information and develop contacts with grassroots community organisations. This will enable the effective distribution of aid in Nias by Uniting Church Oversea Aid.

Rev John Barr
Executive Secretary (Asia)
Uniting International Mission