Salvation Army in Indonesia Responds to Volcanic Eruption
Salvation Army team members give mattresses and blankets to evacuees
SALVATION Army personnel in Indonesia are providing emergency assistance to some of the thousands of people made homeless after the eruption of the Mount Sinabung volcano on the island of Sumatra.
The volcano, which had been inactive for 400 years, sent huge plumes of ash thousands of metres into the atmosphere, covering surrounding towns and villages in thick ash. With little time to gather their belongings approximately 29,000 people living in the shadow of the volcano were evacuated to government and non-governmental (NGO) emergency shelters in surrounding towns.
A second, more powerful eruption two days later was described by locals as accompanied by a tremor resembling an earthquake. On Tuesday a task force reported that the volcano was showing a high level of activity, with 18 tremors and 18 projections of volcanic material – some of which were 100 metres high.
The local Salvation Army Compassion in Action (CIA) team is working out of the nearest Salvation Army corps (church) in the town of Kabanjahe. There are many families sheltering in government buildings near the corps so the team is well placed to offer assistance. Kabanjahe is 1,000m above sea level, making for cold nights and cool mornings. The initial assistance was to distribute 400 mats and 150 blankets to evacuated villages staying near Kabanjahe.
Some assistance has been provided by the government and NGOs but more is required because the number of evacuees is so high. Major Marthen Pandorante, Divisional Commander of The Salvation Army's North Sumatra Division, has made an initial assessment and identified the need for additional assistance in the following areas: health services, bedding, warm clothing, and nutrition and drinking water for children.
Some of the evacuees who live 10-15 kilometres from Mount Sinabung have returned home to their villages, however those who live within 6 kilometres will remain in emergency shelters until it is deemed safe for them to return to their homes.
The Salvation Army Compassion In Action team plans to work in Kabanjahe for the next few weeks until such time as a more comprehensive assessment has been carried out and there is a clearer picture of how long people will be displaced.
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