One month after a 7.5 magnitude earthquake and tsunami struck the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, the Caritas international network continues to assist those whose lives were devastated by this massive natural disaster.
Up to 2.4 million people were affected when the earthquake hit the Minahassa Peninsula, which triggered a tsunami, with waves of up to 6 metres, impacting Palu, Donggala, Mapaga, Gorontalo, and Poso.
Buildings, including houses, shops, mosques, and hotels collapsed, were swept away or suffered extensive damage. Around 2096 people are known to have died, with 10, 679 people seriously injured.
Over 87,000 people were displaced, taking shelter in evacuation centres or informal camps, with many more staying with relatives or friends. Weeks after the deadly disaster, many people remain far from home.
Caritas Australia’s local partners, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and Caritas Indonesia (Karina) have already distributed essential food, lifesaving water and non-food items to 6,000 households, as well as 9,900 tarpaulins and 2,000 kits of household and hygiene supplies to affected families.
Fifty-five year old grandmother, Umi (pictured) and her family are among those who haven’t yet returned to their village.
Her life changed forever, when her entire neighbourhood was flattened by a mudflow caused by the earthquake.
"When the earthquake struck, I panicked and prayed,” Umi says. “I grabbed my grandson and granddaughter. We saw the land, the ground, splitting and cracking, with mud and water coming out of the ground. We slept under the sky that night. It was dark, as the electricity was down. But, we're thankful we're safe,” she says.
“I'm too scared to see my village. I have been living under the tents with my daughter and grandkids,” Umi says.
Caritas’ local partners have identified the rehabilitation and clean-up of wells as key priorities to improve access to water for drinking and washing, to assist people in returning home.
“I don’t know what fate will bring us, I don't know how long we will stay here under the tent, but we're together with other neighbours here. Thank you for helping us."
Caritas Australia, is also responding to the disaster, in partnership with CAN DO (Church Agencies Network – Disaster Operations), a consortium of eight church agencies, through the Australian Humanitarian Partnership. Caritas is a partner of the Australian Humanitarian Partnership Agreement between DFAT and six of Australia’s leading International NGOs, together they are responding rapidly to global disasters and to build resilience to future crises.