Saturday, April 16, 2005

Red Cross are getting ready for possible volcano eruptions

The Federation’s mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity. It is the world’s largest humanitarian organization and its millions of volunteers are active in over 181 countries.

In Brief

This Information Bulletin (no. 02/2005) is being issued for information only. The Federation is not Seeking external funding or other assistance from donors for this operation at this time.
The Situation

Following the strong earthquake (registering 8.7 on the Richter scale) that devastated the island of Nias on 28 March 2005, the area surrounding the nearby Mentawai islands off the west coast of Sumatra continues to be affected by strong seismic activity, rocked between tremors and earthquakes, and activity from active volcanos.

1 Most recently, on the evening of Sunday 10 April, a 7.4-magnitude earthquake shook the town of Padang (the capital of West Sumatra Province), causing thousands of residents to flee in panic. On Tuesday 12 April, 2,599-metre Mount Talang (Solok regency, West Sumatra) started spewing ash, sparking panic among a population that has yet to recover from the recent earthquake, and causing a high alert situation. Mount Talang is located some 40 kilometres east of Padang.

At the same time, Mt. Anak Krakatau (305 metres, part of Mt. Krakatau) and Mt. Tangkuban Perahu (2,084) in West Java Province are also active at status levels of 2 and 3 respectively (level 3 represents intensively increasing rates of seismic activity).

The cumulative affect of the earthquakes and volcanic eruptions has created a pervasive climate of panic among the local population, prompting many to flee in fear of future earthquakes and tsunamis. Many people are moving from earthquake-devastated areas, and on 8 April Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla expressed concern over the rising rate of exodus. An estimated total of some 43,114 people fled or were evacuated from their homes, and many have refused to return because of rumours of aftershocks and tsunamis. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has also encouraged a return to calm.

Red Cross and Red Crescent action

In terms of the earthquake response, phase 1 of the operation is winding down, but there remain significant concerns over conditions in Nias and surrounding areas. Meanwhile, the Indonesian Red Cross (Palang Merah Indonesia/PMI) is monitoring the volcano eruption activity, and with support provided by the Federation is responding to the immediate needs of displaced persons in the form of medicines, face masks, family kits, mosquito nets, and tarpaulin (from Jakarta emergency stock and the Medan warehouse).

At PMI national headquarters, the national society is monitoring the situation and working closely with the West Sumatera chapter, and keeping close coordination with the directorate of volcanology. PMI is also sending goods in the form of tents, body bags, rice, instant food, milk, family kits, tarpaulin, mosquito nets, face masks, and medicine to Padang via air cargo and trucks. As a response to the volcano eruption, the PMI Chairman visited the affected area on 14 April, delivering medicines and masks.

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