Our thoughts remain with the people of Sulawesi, Indonesia, as they continue to search for survivors and struggle to cope with the effects of the devastating earthquake and tsunami.
Like the rest of the world, we have looked on from afar with sadness at the appalling scenes from around Palu, knowing that what we were seeing was likely to be only a fraction of the suffering.
Serve On volunteers pulled together with their usual speed and determination to put together a multi-skilled light assessment team ready to respond in the immediate aftermath of Friday’s 7.5 magnitude quake.
The team, with more than 100 years combined experience of disaster situations, remained on stand-by throughout the weekend, with fantastic support from other members of the charity, all eager to do what they could to help.
It was a remarkable effort by everyone to put us so quickly in a position to offer our search and rescue skills.
While our light team put their lives on hold and waited in case they were needed, the Indonesian authorities had responded rapidly to the emergency with a large deployment of troops and search and rescue assets of their own.
When the Indonesian government requested international assistance early this morning (Monday) it was largely for relief aid, including fuel, generators and lighting equipment; clean water and water tanks; medical personnel, body bags and field hospitals; tents, tarpaulins and blankets; and food and public kitchens, rather than search and rescue capabilities.
Though our team’s ability to produce clean drinking water might have been an asset, the time when our emergency USAR skills would have been most useful had largely passed and other agencies are better suited than we are to provide the sort of aid the people of Sulawesi most need now.
We will continue to monitor the situation in case it changes, and continue to wish the Indonesian people well as they come to terms with the tragedy.