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Indonesian Red Cross Searches for Trapped Quake Survivors
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By Abi Weaver, International Communications, American Red Cross
September 30, 2009

While half of the world slept, a 7.6-magnitude earthquake rattled Indonesia’s western coastline on September 30, setting off a destructive chain of events – buildings caught fire, homes collapsed, electricity failed, airports closed, and residents and tourists became trapped. Local government reports estimate that approximately 75 people have died.

Immediately after the earthquake, authorities issued a tsunami warning, and the Indonesian Red Cross (also known as Palang Merah Indonesia or PMI) began helping residents evacuate to higher ground. After the warning was lifted, local volunteers began assisting with search and rescue, and conducting damage assessments. In the days and weeks that follow, the Indonesian Red Cross will organize first aid services, shelter and other emergency relief activities for those in need.

The American Red Cross has been in close contact with the Indonesian Red Cross and stands ready to support the relief operation should international assistance be requested. More than 300 employees work for the American Red Cross in Indonesia, supporting long-term recovery programs related to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

Students walk out from a collapsed building after an earthquake hit Padang, Indonesia on Sept. 30.
Students walk out from a collapsed building after an earthquake hit Padang, Indonesia on Sept. 30.
Photo Credit: Muhammad Fitrah/Reuters
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With this newest tragedy, the global Red Cross network is now responding to four near-simultaneous disasters in Asia Pacific.

  • Sept. 30: a 7.6-magintude earthquake was recorded off the West coast of Indonesia, about 30 miles from Padang, the capital of West Sumatra.
  • Sept. 29: An 8.3-magnitude earthquake was followed by a tsunami, affecting the Pacific islands of Samoa, Tonga and America Samoa.
  • Sept. 26: Typhoon Ketsana made its first landfall and dumped torrential rains in the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

Tragically, the region is living up to its reputation as one of the most disaster-prone areas in the world.

For inquiries about relatives living and who have citizenship in Indonesia, please try to keep calling or contact other family members who live nearby. Telephone, Internet and other communication lines are often disrupted in times of disaster. People trying to locate U.S. citizens living or traveling in Indonesia should contact the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services, at 1-888-407-4747 or 202-647-5225.

To arrange media interviews with an American Red Cross spokesperson in Indonesia about the local earthquake response as well as other international disaster responses, please call 202-303-5551.

You can help the victims of countless crises around the world each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief and long-term support through supplies, technical assistance and other support to help those in need. Donations to the International Response Fund can be sent to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013 or made by phone at 1-800-REDCROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish) or online at www.redcross.org.

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