Tsunami recovery efforts in Indonesia

Over 100 members of the Canadian Red Cross are helping with recovery efforts in Indonesia following a deadly tsunami. The latest disaster during the Christmas season has evoked memories of the Indian Ocean tsunami triggered by an earthquake 14 years ago today.

The Boxing Day tsunami in 2004 killed more than 220 000 people from 14 countries, including more than 120 000 in Indonesia. The latest tsunami that struck the country over the weekend was on a smaller scale but similar to past disasters. It came without warning and rescue crews from around the world have been sent to help.

Waves, up to five meters high, engulfed fishing villages and holiday resorts. It left a coast littered with the remains of homes, crushed vehicles and fallen trees. And for the people- there was no warning.

Rescuers- including the Canadian Red Cross- are trying to find more survivors .

“We have more than 100 staff there right now. Staff volunteers working day and night shifts basically since Saturday evening and I imagine they will keep working for the next couple of weeks.” said Chiran Livera.

As of today over 400 people have perished and according to Chiran Livera, an operations manager with the Canadian Red Cross, fears are mounting.

“And this is what i’m also hearing from our colleagues on the ground right now. They are still looking for friends and family. There are thousands of people displaced and missing.”

Over 16 000 people have been forced from their homes.

A huge volcanic eruption led to a massive underwater landslide causing the tsunami. One man who escaped, finding higher ground, says Indonesia must have a better plan.

“From the bottom of my heart, I sincerely request that the government set up an early warning system so people can anticipate an incoming tsunami.” said Bapu Suwarna.

The country’s president ordered government agencies to do just that. Today officials adjusted sensors to detect volcanic tremors, but we’re learning the system that was installed more than a decade ago has been in disrepair since 2012.

Indonesia is probably the most disaster prone country. It sits in a very precarious situation with volcanoes and earthquakes and sadly, this isn’t the first time we’ve witnessed terrifying images from the Indian Ocean region.

Livera was sent in 2004 to one of the deadliest natural disasters the world had ever seen.

“It was unimagineable and if I can put it into words, it was total destruction.”

The response was immediate as people around the globe opened their wallets and raised billions.

CHCH even held a day-long fundraising event raising over $900 000 in total. That, along with other local fundraisers and a matching contribution by the federal government brought the total raised to over $3 million.

The Red Cross is encouraging Canadians who wish to donate following the latest tragedy to go to their website for more information. They are looking for financial donations. Right now Canadians are providing safe drinking water, medical attention, food and shelter for those thousands of people who are still displaced.


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