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REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana
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REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana
World News

Indonesia earthquake: Christian charity responding to those with disabilities as death toll rises, and rescue efforts intensified

by Tola Mbakwe

UK Christian disabilities charity CBM has called for prayers and support as it responds to those impacted by a devastating earthquake in Indonesia.

Monday's 5.6-magnitude earthquake in the town of Cianjur, about 75 km (50 miles) south of the capital Jakarta, killed at least 310 people and left thousands sheltering in tents with scant medical and aid supplies. Authorities have reported 24 people are still missing.

More than 58,000 people have taken refuge in emergency tents, places of worship, and government buildings that are still functioning, but the power supply is turned off and hospitals have been hit badly.

The country’s disaster mitigation agency chief, said in the aftermath of the disaster many had not received aid and nearly 5,000 volunteers were deployed to help distribute water, instant food, tents and diapers.

However, distribution of aid was getting better as roadblocks eased.

CBM has helped Ela, a woman with a disability living in one of the most affected districts in Indonesia.

She said: “The earthquake was scary. Many people died and many others are injured. The area, which was most affected by the earthquake, does not have accessible roads. Many people with disabilities are isolated and cannot easily access evacuation sites and assistance. Communities, including people with disabilities like me, are in need of support. We need tents, blankets, food, and toiletries.”

CBM has launched an emergency appeal to give adequate help to those in need.

Matthew Hanning, CBM UK Director of Programmes, led CBM’s country team in Indonesia from 2012 to 2018 said: “It’s desperately sad to hear about the devastating impact of this earthquake in Cianjur, especially as so many dead or injured were children at school when the quake hit. West Java is an area I know well from my years in Indonesia. Our hearts go out to all those affected and we pray for all those delivering relief and support. As always we know people with disabilities will have been among those most affected so our team in Indonesia, who already work with local disability organisations, are reaching out to them to assess the most urgent needs.”

With dozens still missing, rescuers used earth diggers and other heavy machinery to clear mud and debris in search of victims. Some areas that have been cut off by landslides could only be reached by helicopter.

Officials said hopes of finding survivors were fading. Search efforts have been focussed on Cijedil village, where about 30 people were thought to be buried under a landslide.

Monday's quake was particularly deadly because it struck a densely populated area at a depth of just 10 km (6 miles). Poor construction standards also caused buildings to collapse, leading to many deaths, officials said.

Hanning told Premier it’s important Christians show compassion for those impacted.

 “I've seen many times visiting people with disabilities and their families, the immense struggles that they face day to day just to get basic health education to earn a living to provide for their families,” he said.

“And for me personally, it comes back to my faith. And I think our faith as Christians, when Jesus says, when we do what we do for the least of these brothers and sisters of ours, you do for me, that's really important.

“I know that it should be important for all of us, whether we can support financially or not. Of course, the prayers are really appreciated as well.”

Click here to find out how to support.

Listen to Premier's interview with Matthew Hanning here: 

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