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Primate calls for prayer as death toll from Indonesia quake and tsunami tops 1,200

Posted on: October 1, 2018 4:02 PM
Search and rescue workers evacuate an earthquake and tsunami survivor trapped in a collapsed restaurant, in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia on Sunday (30 September).
Photo Credit: Muhammad Adimaja / Antara Foto / Reuters

The Primate of the Anglican Church of South East Asia, Archbishop Moon Hing of West Malaysia, has appealed for prayer for victims of an earthquake and tsunami in the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. The death toll this afternoon (Monday) rose to 1,203, according to the Chinese news agency Xinhua; with officials warning that this is expected to rise sharply. Among the dead are 34 children attending a Bible camp at a church in Sigi, south of Palu, a spokeswoman for the Indonesian Red Cross, Aulia Arriani, told the Reuters news agency. The Church where they were meeting had been engulfed in mud and debris when the area suffered liquefaction – a physical effect that often takes place during earthquakes, which makes soil and solid land act like mud.

The Gereja Anglikan Indonesia (GAI) – the Anglican Church of Indonesia – is a missionary deanery of the Diocese of Singapore in the Anglican Province of South East Asia. “Please pray for Sulawesi,” Archbishop Moon Hing, the Bishop of West Malaysia, said. “The earthquake and tsunami has killed 1000+ victims."

Archbishop Moon Hing said that the GAI had a church on Sulawesi, but was currently unable to assist: “no one is allowed in", he said. “The military has taken over due to many looting and chaos.”

The Malaysian news agency Bernama says that the 1,203 death toll figure is based on reports released by the Disaster Management Institute of Indonesia, Care for Humanity and Humanity Data Centre. It includes victims from Palu and Donggala, but excludes those from Parigi Mountong and North Mamuju, two other badly-affected districts. Authorities say that they are unable to assess the casualty numbers in these areas as all communication has been cut off.

The 7.5 Magnitude earthquake struck at 6.02 pm WITA (10.02 am GMT) on Friday (28 September). It was preceded by a number of foreshocks, beginning with a 6.1 Magnitude quake at 3.00 pm WITA. Since the main quake there have been more than 100 aftershocks, including 14 greater than 5 Magnitute. The tremors triggered a four-six-metre-high tsunami which devastated coastal regions.

Indonesian authorities have welcomed international aid agencies and official specialist support from other countries. A floating power station, capable of generating 125 megawatts of electricity, is on its way to Palu to supplement 30 low low-power generators that have already been distributed across the island. The biggest immediate concern is the lack of clean drinking water and medicines; and the risk of disease caused by decomposing bodies.

Indonesia’s disaster has declared a 14-day state of emergency, and say they have limited data, information, and access to give a full picture of the effects of the disaster.