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Earthquake Devastates Indonesian Island


In Indonesia, rescue efforts are underway after a massive earthquake and tsunami hit the island of Sulawesi on Friday. Hundreds of people have been reported dead, and many more are missing after waves almost 20 feet high destroyed buildings and swept away cars. Rescue workers fear the death toll could rise since some areas remain inaccessible. Yenni Suryani is the Indonesian country manager for Catholic Relief Services. She's been aiding in those rescue efforts, and she's with us now from Jakarta.

Yenni Suryani, thank you so much for speaking with us.


MARTIN: Can you just give us a sense of what it is like there? Just tell us what you see or what you know.

SURYANI: So far, we see the damage and the impact of the disaster is quite devastating. But the government's boats from the central government and also the local government has deployed military personnel, police personnel and their humanitarian agencies to the target area. Although the challenge now is the transportation to that area because it's hard to reach, and some roads leading to that cities are so damaged. There's still many people declared missing, and the search and rescue mission is priority right now.

MARTIN: Have there been any aftershocks reported?

SURYANI: Yes. The earthquake aftershocks have been reported for more than 100 aftershocks so far. But the National Agency for Disaster Management did not issue any tsunami warning because the level and the scale of the aftershocks is small, and tsunami was not the concern at this time.

MARTIN: So you were telling us that a lot of resources from in country are being deployed there. Do you have any sense of what the priority is right now? What do you need?

SURYANI: The priority now for the government and for the united workers is search and rescue to safe lives. And once our team is on the ground, we can see more identified needs there. But, in my experience, you will need all the relief items like tarps and shelters. And also food will be needed by the community.

MARTIN: At this point, do you have any sense of how the international community is responding to this so far?

SURYANI: I understand that the - this disaster has attracted international community. However, since the government has not yet declared whether this is national disaster that will be open for international agencies to support, we are still in the stage of needs assessment. If the government needs our help, needs international help, they will ask, and we'll be ready to fill the gap.

MARTIN: That is Yenni Suryani at Catholic Relief Services.

Thank you so much for speaking with us.

SURYANI: Thank you so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.