Indonesia Earthquake: Afraid to go Home

As shared from Wahyu Widayanto, CARE Indonesia Emergency Response Manager, who arrived in the affected region Dec. 8

I arrived in Pidie Jaya in Aceh province on Dec. 8, the day after the 6.5 magnitude earthquake hit.

Early reports indicate over 100 people have died, over 660 are injured and 23,000 affected. Thousands of buildings have been damaged – homes, schools, mosques and a hospital. With downed power lines, there is little electricity available at the moment.

Shortly after the earthquake, the mother of one of CARE’s staff travelled to the affected areas to see if her family was alright. Thankfully, they survived. She saw many people crying and bodies under the rubble, with some people possibly still alive, as soldiers worked to rescue them. She met a woman from a family of five and four had perished. The woman was inconsolable.

A day later, I visited a mosque where many people displaced by the earthquake are staying. Some mothers told me that their homes were completely destroyed. Other women said their houses had some damage, but they were afraid to go home. They are afraid of aftershocks, which continue to rumble.

“My house is in coastal area, and I am afraid to go back, and worry if there will be another shock,” a woman named Khainidar, from Beringin village, told me.

“I do not have money now to feed my son,” Nurhasanah (below photo), 38, said as she held her five-month-old son Adahari in her arms.

The 2004 earthquake and tsunami that devastated the region is still on the minds of many.

There is a lack of clean water. Many are using dirty river water to wash their rice, for example. Also I noticed many displaced lack access to toilets. I counted only four toilets for people in one mosque and the surrounding area. This hits women even harder.

Some small local food and relief item distributions have started. The local government has set-up mobile kitchens where mostly instant noodles and canned food is prepared.

CARE is leading a joint assessment with other humanitarian agencies to get a sense of the damage and determine if we can help the government’s response if needed.

While it may take a few days for the full extent of the damage to be clear, we know from experience that after an earthquake of this scale, people will urgently need clean water, shelter, food and medical supplies.

CARE has a Canadian spokesperson available in Indonesia. Contact:

Darcy Knoll
Communications Specialist | CARE Canada | +1.613.790.2134