By Vatican News staff writer
The social and development arm of the Catholic Church in Indonesia is reaching out to the victims of last week’s powerful earthquake in West Sulawesi province, which killed at least 84 people and forced thousands to flee their homes.
The magnitude 6.2 quake struck early 15 January, causing the most damage in the city of Mamuju and the neighbouring district of Majene on Sulawesi island. According to the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas), 73 people died in Mamuju and 11 in Majene. It said nearly 20,000 survivors were moved to shelters and more than 900 people were injured, with nearly 300 of them still receiving treatment for serious injuries. Thousands of buildings and public facilities were badly damaged, including communication networks, and electricity.
Mary Queen of the Rosary Parish
A day after the earthquake, Caritas Indonesia (Karina) and Caritas in Makassar Archdiocese in neighbouring South Sulawesi province, began distributing aid to victims through St. Mary Queen of the Rosary Parish in Mamuju. “We established a coordination post and kitchen in the church compound on Jan. 16,” parish priest Father Victor Wiro Patinggi told UCA News. He said they were providing food and also drugs, tents, clothes, masks, disinfectants and hand sanitizer. The priest who was injured by broken glass said none of his parishioners had been killed but many were injured.
He said his parish has more than 2,000 Catholics, many of whom fled their homes after the Indonesian Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysical Agency urged people to move to safer locations for fear of aftershocks and a tsunami. Amid the natural disaster, he said, people still have to observe the Covid-19 health protocols.
Father Bernard Cakra Arung Raya, chairman of Caritas in Makassar Archdiocese, said his team was distributing aid in Mamuju and would soon cover a mission station in nearby Majene district. Makassar Archdiocese is serving as the centre for receiving help and Karina, Catholic individuals and several Catholic groups have provided funds to procure materials needed for the victims. Father Raya said volunteers have distributed tents, foods, drugs, blankets and masks to the church in Mamuju since Jan. 16.
Father Fredy Rante Taruk, Caritas Indonesia’s executive director, said he has sent a team to West Sulawesi to work with the local team. “Karina is helping with money and logistical needs such as food, clean water, blankets, tents and drugs,” he told UCA News. Karina is also working with Humanitarian Forum Indonesia, a religious-based aid group, and government agencies.
Amid the natural disaster, volunteers, rescuers and people still have to observe the Covid-19 health protocols. West Sulawesi province has recorded more than 2,500 cases of the coronavirus, including 58 deaths.
The disaster mitigation agency BNPB said the evacuees are in dire need of basic necessities, such as blankets, mats, tents, baby food and medical services. Many on Sulawesi island are still haunted by a magnitude 7.5 earthquake that devastated Palu city in 2018, killing more than 4,000 people. (Source: UCA News)