Oxfam and partners assessing damage after earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia

Oxfam and its local partners in Indonesia are assessing damage after a massive earthquake and tsunami hit coastal towns in the country’s central island of Sulawesi late Friday night Australian time.

The huge and shallow 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck the coastal town of Palu and Donggala in Central Sulawesi, with aftershocks continuing, and so far it’s been reported that more than 400 people have been killed.

Oxfam’s Country Director in Indonesia, Maria Lauranti, said: “Oxfam’s partners in Palu have been working closely with the National Disaster Management Agency and local authorities in the affected area to assess the situation on the ground.”

Oxfam in Indonesia previously established a Humanitarian Knowledge Hub that consists of 16 community organisations in Indonesia, led by JEMARI Sakato. It includes two local organisations in Sulawesi.

Oxfam in Indonesia has been working to strengthen the capacity of this alliance as one of the local leaders in disaster risk management, and it responded to help people affected by the Lombok earthquake in July.

Oxfam Australia’s Chief Executive Helen Szoke said there were grave concerns the death toll could increase as new areas were accessed.

“Our thoughts are with the people of Indonesia after this terrible disaster,” Dr Szoke said.

“Worryingly, the National Disaster Management Agency has said they’ve received no information from the district of Donggala, which is closer to the epicentre of the earthquake.

“In an emergency like this, once Oxfam’s partners know it’s safe to do so, they would be looking at providing water and sanitation if infrastructure is damaged, as in many cases like this water supplies could be contaminated.

“Other priorities would be emergency medical and health shelter, and emergency hygiene items.

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