6 August 2018: Plan International responds to powerful Lombok earthquake as death toll rises

Plan International Indonesia spokeswoman Dini Widiastuti (in Jakarta) is available for interview and grabs. Video taken of the evacuation immediately after the earthquake is available here (media are welcome to share with attribution to Plan International – a longer, higher quality version is available on request). Media contact Jane.Gardner@plan.org.au 

As the death toll from a second powerful earthquake to strike Lombok in less than a week rises, Plan International staff on the ground are preparing to scale up its humanitarian response.

 

At 6.46pm Sunday 5 August local time, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Lombok, with the epicentre located 18 kilometres south-west of East Lombok island. A tsunami alert was issued, but lifted shortly after. A number of aftershocks between 5-5.6 magnitude have continued to rock the island and have been felt in Bali, Jember and Sidoarjo in East Java. The death toll is so far estimated at 82.

 

The Plan International response team on the ground were caught up in the earthquake and have been subsequently evacuated to a safer area. Plan International Indonesia continues to coordinate with the national and local authorities to prepare a wider response.

 

Plan International Indonesia spokeswoman Dini Widiastuti said the staff immediately sprang into action to assist with the evacuation to higher ground.

“Last night, just after the earthquake, communities in North Lombok were evacuated to higher ground because of the tsunami potential. From the footage our staff shot, you can see the panic. Even this morning there are still aftershocks,” Ms Widiastuti said.

 

“Even in capital, which is one and a half hours drive away, people are very worried about damage to the buildings. Since the earthquake last week there have been hundreds of aftershocks, 44 of which could be felt.

 

“Our assessment is that people in Lombok really need shelters at the moment, especially tarps and blankets. This is absolutely critical, because people have been sleeping in open fields for many days now. The children have nothing to do because the schools are closed. They have been living in exposed conditions for days there have been reports of increased respiratory illnesses as a result.”

 

Ms Widiastuti said Plan International has 500 emergency shelter kits ready to distribute by air, given the poor road conditions in Lombok. The response will include counselling for children to ensure they are protected.  Water, hygiene and sanitation is another area being considered, to prevent disease outbreaks from damage to infrastructure and water sources.

 

“We are preparing school kits to distribute to children whose education has been disrupted, but our number one priority at the moment is to ensure we are providing shelter to children and their families,” she said.

 

This is the second powerful earthquake to strike Lombok in a week. Plan International Indonesia deployed a rapid needs assessment team in response to the first quake, which struck on 31 July. It killed 17 people, destroyed or damaged 4500 houses and 31 schools, affecting around 50,000 Lombok residents.

 

Susanne Legena, Plan International Australia CEO, said Plan International Australia has already committed $40,000 to the response.

 

“Our primary concern is children. Children can be seriously affected by disasters like this, they may have seen loved ones injured or killed and their houses destroyed and are scared by aftershocks. Their schooling has ceased because the buildings are unsafe.

 

“The trauma of living through an earthquake combined with the long, hard road to recovery is particularly hard on children, so Plan International is providing counselling, shelter and education kits to ensure life can return to some kind of normality as soon as possible.”

 

Plan in Indonesia has a focus on the well being of children and parents and has responded quickly and effectively to support children and communities affected by emergencies in recent emergencies in Indonesia, including the Mt Sinabung and Mt Raung volcano eruptions, and the Aceh earthquake.

 

Australians wishing to donate to the appeal should visit https://www.plan.org.au/give/children-in-crisis or ring 13 75 26.

 

Caption for video: Ajun Khamdani of the Plan International Indonesia Emergency Response Team, reporting from the ground in Tanjung, North Lombok, shortly after the quake struck on Sunday evening. “We have just experienced an earthquake of 7 on the Richter scale, and we at Plan International are here assessing the needs of women and children. There are four of us on the ground. As you can see in the background, we are helping people to get away from buildings and to an open field where it is safer. We are still experiencing aftershocks."