Salvationists were among the victims of an earthquake that brought devastation to Indonesia on Saturday, August 18. Five of the six people killed in Lindu District were members of The Salvation Army. Many others have lost their homes.
The earthquake, measuring 6.2 on the Richter Scale, caused devastation across Central Sulawesi Province. Initial reports suggested that Kulawi, Tuwa and Salua Districts had suffered the worst damage but it soon became clear that Lindu had also been badly hit. News was not getting out because all communications were down and the only access road to Lindu was badly damaged.
Major Yusak Tampai, leader of The Salvation Army’s Eastern Palu Division, says that Salvationists make up 90 per cent of the population in Lindu and Kulawi. In Salua about half the community members are Salvationists.
The Salvation Army’s Compassion in Action Team undertook a rapid response to supply food and medical services in Kulawi, Tuwa and Salua on Monday, August 20.
Territorial Commander Commissioner Basuki Kartodarsono was in the province when the earthquake struck. When the news from Lindu came through he visited the district, accompanied by Major Tampai. The visitors travelled by helicopter, which was provided by Helivida (Helimission).
‘It was sad to see the devastation,’ writes Major Tampai, adding: ‘It was a moving experience to visit and pray with Salvationist families in their tents.’
He explains that Tuwa has been provided with government aid and that ‘Salua and Kulawi have been reached by many donations as these are located on the main road. They can be easily reached in the coming days.’ Relief supplies cannot get through to Lindu until the road – nothing more than a track for motorbikes – is reopened, although there is some hope that this will happen today (23 August).
Hundreds of homes have been significantly damaged, along with 25 public buildings including a Salvation Army school and five Salvation Army corps (churches).
Meetings are taking place today to work out the details of the immediate response. Colonel Mike Parker (Chief Secretary, Indonesia Territory) says that more news and specific requests for support will emerge ‘as soon as the coordinating group has completed its work’.