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Churches unite with one heart to shelter Indonesian tsunami survivors

02 Oct 2018

As search and rescue efforts continue, Tearfund is working with a network of almost 40 Indonesian churches to provide temporary shelter and emergency kitchens for Tsunami survivors.

Rev. Krise Gosal, who is in Palu said: ‘Church leaders here are still looking for their families and congregations, as well as their neighbours. They are having to bury the dead. Survivors are hungry and need clean water to drink. Babies are crying for milk.

‘We are asking our church networks to share the burden of the sufferings by donating food, tents and other supplies as well as funds. Churches in Indonesia are uniting with one heart to express their solidarity with the people in Palu, Donggala, and Sigi. Neighbouring churches further south have collected contributions from their interfaith communities, such as water, dry-foods, rice, clothes, baby supplies. But it is still very hard to get past landslides and damaged roads with supplies and the loss of lives is devastating.’

Tearfund’s partners have also deployed medical teams to the affected areas. One such team includes emergency doctors and nurses and an orthopaedic surgeon. Another team will include a midwife.

Another church partner has opened an emergency shelter in Immanuel High School in Palu, but those serving in this centre are still too traumatised to sleep inside for fear of aftershocks and many are sleeping out in the open.

Liquefaction (when soil becomes saturated with water) is making the affected area extremely dangerous. Rev Krise Gosal describes the moment a church in Jono’oge was engulfed in destabilised soil:

‘I visited the Sigi region and it was horribly smashed up. Roads destroyed, bridges broken, 8 electric poles have all come down. I watched the church building in Jono’oge move away and disappear into the mud. The retreat centre was also swallowed in the mud and there were about 140 young people inside it at the time. They’d been at Bible camp. Only 40 people survived. Other church leaders told me how in Toboli, houses and a maternity clinic were literally sucked into the ground.’

Tearfund’s Head of Humanitarian Support, Oenone Chadburn, said: ‘Tearfund is deeply saddened to see the devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami that has hit Indonesia. We are supporting church networks in their locally-led response and deploying expert assistance where appropriate and in coordination with the international response. Without swift humanitarian response and unless water and sanitation facilities are reestablished there is a high risk of disease outbreaks, especially now that Indonesia is entering a season of heavy rain.’


For further information or interview requests contact [email protected], call Sarah Greenwood on 07423 431417 or Tearfund Media Team on 0208 3906 3131. For out of hours media enquiries please call 07710 573749.

Notes to editors:

  • Around 48,000 people have lost their homes and 1,200 people killed following a series of earthquakes in the Central Sulawesi province of Indonesia. The strongest of these measured a magnitude of 7.5 and triggered a tsunami that hit the city of Palu with waves of up to 6m. Many of the worst hit areas are hard to reach, cut off by landslides and road damage, and communications networks are down, but estimates suggest that up to 1.5 million people may be affected, with 191,000 already identified as being in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.  
  • Tearfund is a Christian relief and development agency and a member of the Disasters’ Emergency Committee. Founded in 1968, Tearfund has been working around the world for 50 years responding to disasters and helping lift communities out of poverty. For more information about the work of Tearfund, please visit
  • Tearfund is responding to the Indonesian Tsunami crisis in alliance with Tear Netherlands and through a network of church-based relief and development organisations.
Indonesia Tsunami

Caption: Hospitals, homes, schools have been destroyed and in some places entire villages swept away. Survivors are left traumatised and missing loved ones in the aftermath of the Tsunami. (Tearfund / 2018)

Indonesia Tsunami

Without urgent humanitarian assistance, there is a high risk of disease outbreak as sanitation facilities have been damaged and water sources under threat of contamination. (Tearfund/ 2018)

Indonesia Tsunami

Roads are damaged, making getting aid supplies through extremely challenging. (Tearfund / 2018)

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