Rotary aiding victims of latest Indonesia crisis

[Rotary International News]

Rotary International staff members are working with District 3400 (Indonesia) to acquire information about Rotarian-led disaster relief efforts after a tsunami and volcanic eruption killed more than 370 people and displaced tens of thousands in Indonesia.

The tsunami, triggered by a 7.7 magnitude earthquake on October 25, destroyed villages on the remote islands of Mentawai. More than 400 people remain missing.

A day after the tsunami hit, Indonesia’s Mount Merapi erupted, killing more than 30 people and displacing 40,000 as residents fled the area.

Updates will be posted online as they become available.

Related news items:

• (Associated Press) A Chilean surfer and cameraman who filmed parts of  Indonesia’s devastating tsunami this week says he spent a terrifying night as three huge waves — two of them at least 16 feet high — crashed into his beach resort. Sebastian Carvallo said he and fellow surfers huddled in a third-floor room and could hear one wave as it approached with a roar “like a train out of control.” When the wave hit, it shook the building so hard he thought it might collapse. He says, incredibly, all 19 guests and eight Indonesian staff at the resort survived even though five were caught outside when the wave hit and had to cling to trees. Carvallo said today that he had been taught since childhood to seek higher ground after an earthquake near the coast.

• (The Wall Street Journal) JAKARTA, Indonesia — The combined death toll from a tsunami and volcanic eruptions in Indonesia climbed to 441 today as aid workers shifted their focus to prevent outbreaks of disease among survivors of the twin disasters earlier this week. Relief efforts have stepped up in Indonesia as aid reaches the worst hit areas of the Mentawai islands devastated by a tsunami. Assessment and aid crews were finally reaching many of the worst-hit villages on the Mentawai islands off the coast of Indonesian Sumatra, where a tsunami following a 7.7-magnitude earthquake Monday killed 408 people, with more than 300 others still missing. But they said there were still some areas where aid wasn’t getting through because of shortages of boats or inadequate or damaged infrastructure, raising fears of possible outbreaks of malaria and other diseases. Another concern was that many parts of the island chain, a relatively sparsely-populated area some 12 hours from Sumatra by boat, don’t have well-stocked hospitals able to handle the crush of victims. … Further away from the volcano, fears were rising that diseases could appear in impromptu refugee camps where scores of evacuees are now taking temporary shelter, unsure of when they might be able to return.

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