20.01.21 | News

Devastating earthquake on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi

EMS provides €10,000 in immediate aid

Several residential and church buildings were destroyed or severely damaged.. (Photo: GTM)

A strong 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck the region in Indonesia early Friday. Since then, the number of casualties has continued to rise. The epicentre was about 36 kilometres south of the city of Mamuju on the west coast of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Official figures have reported at least 81 deaths and hundreds injured in the province of West Sulawesi. It is estimated that over 28,000 people are now housed in emergency shelters in the region.

The hospital in Mamuju was severely damaged by the shocks. The seat of the provincial administration and several residential and church buildings were destroyed or severely damaged.

EMS member churches helping in the area

The Evangelical Mission in Solidarity is in close contact with its partner churches in Indonesia. Although the Indonesian churches are still reeling from the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, they have already provided immediate aid to the region. The Evangelical Mission in Solidarity (EMS) is supporting the emergency aid provided by the Indonesian churches with a sum of €10,000.

The Toraja Mamasa Church (GTM), the Toraja Church (GT) and the Protestant Church of West Sulawesi (GKSB) all have their congregations in the affected region. The local congregations have no reports of deaths linked to the earthquake. However, more than 300 families suffered major damage to their homes.

On the same day as the earthquake, the neighbouring Toraja Church (GT) sent off the first emergency supplies to the earthquake area. Since the coastal road is currently impassable, the convoy was forced to detour over the passes and mountainous roads of Sulawesi.

Rantivianto Kendeban, an employee of the church administration of the Toraja Church (GT), is one of many volunteers accompanying the aid transport for the GT. He reports from the village of Botteng Utara, near the epicenter of Mamuju: "The destruction is considerable. The economic development of recent years has been destroyed here in an instant. People are desperate."

Relief supplies are loaded for onward transport (Photo: GT/Rantivianto Kendenan)

Great concern about outbreaks of Covid

After the earthquake, many people had to spend the night in tents and emergency shelters because of continuous heavy rain. Due to the coronavirus, they should really stay at home and practise social distancing but this is impossible given the present emergency situation. Meanwhile, a large number of rescue teams have been sent to the disaster area. As it is impossible to obey the very strict Covid rules in these conditions, it is hoped that coronavirus tests will minimise the spread of the virus in emergency shelters.

Pastor Yusuf Arta of the Toraja Mamasa Church (GTM) reports from Baruru, a region in the outskirts of Mamuju, which has also been severely affected by the earthquake: "In addition to the destruction caused by the earthquake, the biggest concern for us is that in a situation where the Corona infection rate is increasing significantly and rapidly, the people who have fled do not have the opportunity to protect themselves from the virus. They are housed in tents or under plastic sheets in cramped quarters, lacking masks and sanitizers. People have experienced firsthand what an earthquake can do, even large buildings have collapsed, but they do not see the Corona virus. Right now, the fear of an aftershock is greater than the fear of being infected by the virus. That's why GTM has sent a medical team with anti-Corona equipment to the region."

Donate to the EMS Emergency Fund

We need your help so that we can deliver aid fast in future. After a catastrophe, the people affected are heavily dependent on aid. The Evangelical Mission in Solidarity provides pre-financing for emergency aid projects in order to respond quickly in an emergency. We use the Emergency Fund for crisis situations. Aid is quick and unbureaucratic. We send your donations where they are needed the most.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the earthquake on Sulawesi. Please include the mourning, the injured and all the helpers in your prayers.

Donation account:
Evangelische Mission in Solidarität e.V.
Evangelische Bank
IBAN: DE85520604100000000124
Purpose “EMS Emergency Aid”