Australia ready to help Indonesian tsunami recovery


Australia is standing by ready to help Indonesia recover from a tsunami that has killed at least 429 people.

Australia is standing by to help Indonesia in its post-tsunami clean-up and recovery effort.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed with AAP on Christmas Day that Australia would help our neighbour if requested after the disaster that has killed 429 people.

Demolished homes seen from a rescue helicopter after a tsunami hit the Sunda Strait, in Banten, Indonesia.
Demolished homes seen from a rescue helicopter after a tsunami hit the Sunda Strait, in Banten, Indonesia.

There are still 154 people are missing, more than 1500 injured and at least 11,000 displaced from their homes.

Oxfam Australia on Tuesday said donations made to its International Crisis Fund would go toward helping people affected by the Sulawesi tsunami, including supporting the Indonesian government to provide clean water and hygiene facilities.

Clean drinking water and food needed

"Thousands of people are housed in makeshift camps, and they need aid urgently including clean drinking water, food and sanitary supplies. We also need to pay special attention to the safety needs of women and children," Dino Argianto, Oxfam's humanitarian operations lead in Yogyakarta, said in a statement.

"Two of our teams are already on the ground working with partners to assess the needs and get help where it's needed quickly."

Survivors recount tales of what happened in one of the worst-affected regions
Survivors recount tales of what happened in one of the worst-affected regions

Oxfam is providing clean water, building toilets, and distributing hygiene kits that include blankets and soap.

Red Cross Australia confirmed on Tuesday that its Indonesian counterpart had 300 staff and 800 volunteers on the ground.

Indonesia tsunami survivors cram into shelters

Desperately needed aid flowed into a stretch of Indonesia's tsunami-struck coastline Tuesday, but humanitarian workers warned that clean water and medicine supplies were dwindling as thousands crammed makeshift evacuation centres.

Fears about a public health crisis come as the death toll from Saturday's volcano-triggered disaster rose to nearly 400 with thousands more displaced from flattened homes.

Members of rescue team at work in Banten, Indonesia, on December 24, 2018.
Members of rescue team at work in Banten, Indonesia, on December 24, 2018.

"A lot of the children are sick with fevers, headaches and they haven't had enough water," said Rizal Alimin, a doctor working for NGO Aksi Cepat Tanggap, at a local school that was turned into a temporary shelter.

"We have less medicine than usual...It's not healthy here for evacuees. There isn't enough clean water. They need food and people are sleeping on the floor."

The powerful tsunami struck at night and without warning, sweeping over popular beaches on southern Sumatra and western Java and inundated tourist hotels and coastal settlements.

Death toll at 429

The latest death toll stood at 429, with more than 1500 people injured and another 154 missing.

Experts have warned that more deadly waves could slam the stricken region.

Many of the more than 5,000 evacuees are too afraid to return home, fearing another disaster.

"I've been here three days," said Neng Sumarni, 40, who was sleeping with her three children and husband on the school's floor with some three dozen others.

"I'm scared because my home is right near the beach."

'Can't reach them'

Abu Salim, with volunteer group Tagana, said aid workers were scrambling to stabilise the situation.

"Today we're focusing on helping the evacuees in shelters by setting up public kitchens and distributing logistics and more tents in suitable places," he told AFP on Tuesday.

"(People) still don't have access to running water...There are many evacuees who fled to higher ground and we still can't reach them."

Scale of devastation after deadly Indonesia tsunami
Scale of devastation after deadly Indonesia tsunami

Aid was flowing in mainly by road while two government boats were on their way to several islands near the Sumatran coast to help dozens of marooned residents.

Officials have said the evidence suggested that an eruption at the rumbling Anak Krakatoa volcano in the Sunda Strait -- between Java and Sumatra -- caused a section of the crater to collapse and slide into the ocean, triggering the tsunami.

Unlike those caused by earthquakes, which usually trigger alert systems, volcano-triggered tsunamis give authorities very little time to warn residents of the impending threat.

Indonesia's disaster agency initially said there was no tsunami threat at all, even as the killer wave crashed ashore.

Lack of early warning system

It was later forced to issue a correction and an apology as it pointed to a lack of early warning systems for the high death toll.

Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said on Monday: "The lack of a tsunami early warning system caused a lot of victims because people did not have the time to evacuate."

Meanwhile, rescue teams were using their bare hands, diggers and other heavy equipment to haul debris from the stricken area and hunt for corpses, as hopes of finding more survivors dwindle.

Scrutiny on tsunami detection equipment as death toll rises
Scrutiny on tsunami detection equipment as death toll rises

Third disaster in six months

The tsunami was Indonesia's third major natural disaster in six months, following a series of powerful earthquakes on the island of Lombok in July and August and a quake-tsunami in September that killed around 2,200 people in Palu on Sulawesi island, with thousands more missing and presumed dead.

It also came less than a week before the 14th anniversary of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, one of the deadliest disasters in history that killed some 220,000 people in countries around the Indian Ocean, including some 168,000 Indonesians.

The vast archipelago nation is one of the most disaster-hit nations on Earth due to its position straddling the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, where tectonic plates collide.

Source AAP - SBS, AFP - SBS


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