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Earthquake and tsunami Swiss aid experts to leave for quake-hit Indonesia

Rescuers search for quake victims in Palu, Indonesia

Rescuers search for victims after a 7.5-magnitude earthquake and tsunami hit Palu on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia, on October 1, 2018

(Keystone)

Switzerland is sending a team of seven emergency aid experts to assist victims of Indonesia's deadly earthquake and tsunami, the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed. 

The Swiss ministryexternal link told a media conference in Bern that on Monday evening a team of doctors, and water, construction and logistics experts should leave for Jakarta and travel onward to the devastated Sulawesi island, where at least 844 people have died.

After carrying out an assessment, planned for Wednesday, further aid workers could be sent. The first group’s initial tasks will be to evaluate the quality of water and buildings, as well as providing medical assistance, especially to children and pregnant women. Depending on the needs, a field hospital may be set up.

The Swiss Solidarity charityexternal link on Monday launched a fundraising campaign for the emergency needs of victims of the tsunami and earthquake. It is working with five Swiss partners (the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), Caritas, HEKS/EPER, the aid organisation of the Swiss Protestant Churches, Solidar Switzerland and the Swiss Red Cross), who are seeking to provide urgently needed food, water, medicine, and medical and shelter materials.

It was also reported on Monday that the non-governmental organisation Caritas has several aid workers in the region, including a Swiss expert. Caritas Switzerland says it has made available CHF1 million to assist victims.

+ Read more about the Swiss Humanitarian Aid unit

A 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck the island of Sulawesi in central Indonesia early on Friday and generated a tsunami said to have been as high as 6 meters (20 feet) in places. 

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said on Monday that around 191,000 people in Indonesia are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, including 46,000 children and 14,000 elderly people. 

Indonesian authorities were reportedly scrambling to get help into Sulawesi island as survivors streamed away from their ruined homes and accounts of devastation filtered out of remote areas. 

Dozens of people are reported to be trapped in the rubble of several hotels and a mall in the city of Palu, 1,500 km (930 miles) northeast of Jakarta, which was the worst hit. Hundreds more were feared buried in landslides that engulfed villages. 

Of particular concern is Donggala, a region of 300,000 people north of Palu and close to the epicentre of the quake, and two other districts, where communication had been cut off. The four districts have a combined population of about 1.4 million. 

Dozens of aid agencies and non-governmental organisations have said they are ready to provide emergency assistance. The European Union has announced that it will provide €1.5 million (CHF1.7 million) in humanitarian aid.

The Geneva-based International Federation of Red and Red Crescent Societiesexternal link and the Indonesian Red Cross is seeking CHF22 million ($22.3 million) to respond to the emergency and help 160,000 people across the two disaster zones for 20 months. More than 175 volunteers and staff from the Indonesian Red Cross are currently on the ground.

Keystone SDA/sb

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