Go to the Samatran Surfaraiis website and check theor update pages for more information, updates and photos.
APRIL 1st UPDATE
First, there are no “April Fools” jokes in this update. It’s all very serious and heavy stuff that we’re encountering. We have heard a fair bit of good news sprinkled throughout the last few days, such as the fact that the missing surfers in Sorake/Lagundri from Australia, France, the UK, and Sweden have all been found safe and sound. However, most of the news has been devastating, and we’re all trying to sort through it right now.
For a bit of clarity, I think it will help to read the following information compiled primarily by the World Health Organization (WHO). It views things from the standpoint of a somewhat larger NGO. It focuses heavily on the impact on Nias and can miss some of the small stuff (such as the trauma in the Hinakos), but it should give you a firmer grasp on exactly what has happened, and what is still happening. The report was created on the 29th, so we’ve had lots of new information, as you can read at the bottom part of the update.
TIMELINE OF EARTHQUAKE AND LOCATION:
· A great earthquake was noted at 23:09:36 hrs, local time at epicenter, on Monday, March 28, 2005. The magnitude was 8.7 on the Richter scale and located in NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA. (by a seismologist). The epicenter located 90 km south of Sinabang with 30 Km Depth 2.065 N 97.010
· No Major Tsunami has been reported near the epicenter as yet.
· The earthquake was also felt in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Cocos Island, Australia
· Nias Island, Nias Province, Capital Gunung Sitoli, and Teluk Dalam (District Capital of South Nias)
· Simeulue Island, NAD Province
· Banyak Islands
· Parts of the Telos and Hinakos
POPULATION AT RISK
The affected population hit by the earthquake was not reported as yet, however Vice President Jusuf Kalla quotes "it is predicted and it's still rough estimate that the number of victims of death may be between 1,000 and 2,000"
· According to the information received from MOH and various sources, 1,000 persons were killed and injured in Nias Island and 200 in the Simeulue Island. However, these figures need to be confirmed by the ongoing field assessments.
· 2,000 people became homeless and IDPs in Nias (note: this figure is grossly underestimated; be sure to read our more accurate information below).
IMPACT ON HEALTH SERVICE AND HEALTH RELATED FACILITIES
· Reports from local authorities stated that 70% of buildings collapsed in Gunung Sitoli town (Nias).
· Telecommunication facilities are totally destroyed.
· Bridges were also destroyed and land transportation is blocked.
· The airport is still functioning and small planes can land.
· The electricity is cut partially.
CENTRAL GOVERNMENT SUPPORT
Secretary of the Presidential office with team visited the affected areas on 29 March 2005. President of Indonesia will visit the areas on 30 March 2005.
MINISTRY OF HEALTH AND W.H.O RESPONSES TO THE DISASTER
· Communicate through early warning system to all parties concerned, including field offices.
· MOH and WHO Emergency relief operation meeting organized at 07:45 hrs on 29 March 2005.
· WHO release 10,000 US$ immediately to MOH for emergency relief operation on 29 March 2005.
· North Sumatra provincial Health Office immediately sent Emergency Brigade Team to Nias.
· Special Emergency Surgery team lead by Prof. Idrus from Makasar, South Sulawesi province will arrive at Nias on 29 March 2005.
· Emergency medical supplies sent to affected areas. WHO warehouses in Medan and Aceh ready to transport emergency medical supplies according to need assessment.
· 50 medical professionals including specialist from Ministry of Health sent to Nias for rapid assessment and emergency relief operation
· WHO Health coordinator arrived Nias on 29 March 2005 as part UN joint mission led by UNOCHA from Banda Aceh and WHO security officer participated in UN assessment mission to Simeulue island.
· WHO Health coordinator from Meulaboeh arrived Nias with French Red Cross Team 29 March afternoon.
· MOH, PHO and WHO joint rapid assessment team will visit affected areas starting from 30 March 2004.
· WHO has strengthened its' office in Medan to support emergency relief services and closely monitor the situation in cooperation with MOH, Provincial and District Health Offices.
· UN DMC meeting organized at 12:00 on 29 March 2004 at Jakarta.
· Many UN organizations and NGOs are in the process of visiting the affected areas.
PROVINCIAL AND DISTRICT RESPONSE TO THE DISASTER
· Victims evacuated.
· District health office already established health post at sub-district and district level.
· 25 food packages were distributed to the victims.
· Mobile medical service for affected victims, injuries and trauma care.
· About 35 patients require medical evacuation from Gunung Sitoli town.
· Shelter, water, food including infant and supplementary food for children, clothes, blankets, sanitary measures and emergency lights.
· Operational funding supports for health staff to mobilize and provide health services to affected areas.
· Special transportation services to reach affected areas.
· Satellite telecommunication support.
Though the death toll from the report seems to be fairly accurate, it appears this report may have significantly underestimated the structural damage to these islands. Also, it does not even touch on the geographical changes that have taken place throughout Nias, Simeulue, the Banyaks, and the Hinakos. From our reports coming in from IDEP, the fantastic NGO we’ve been working with constantly since the first quake, the numbers are more staggering. On Nias, estimations are now that more than 20,000 villagers have been displaced, while more than 80% of the buildings THROUGHOUT THE ISLAND have been destroyed or rendered uninhabitable. On Simeulue, about 50% of the buildings were seriously damaged throughout the island. The capital, Sinabang, was hit even harder, losing more than 80% of its infrastructure. An estimated additional 8,000 people in need of shelter and emergency aid are now being added to the list of 23,000 from the tsunami on December 26th. As you’ll see in this update, reefs are lifting and debris in the water is making sea navigation difficult, and virtually impossible at night. The Banyaks were the closest landmass to the quake's epicenter. The islands are very difficult to access and reports of damage there have been slow to emerge. Early reports from IDEP are that roughly 5,000 have been displaced in this area.
The mood of the villagers throughout the islands can best be described as discouraged, fearful, and desperate. Our reports from Yandi in Teluk Dalam are that everyone is scared to sleep anywhere indoors for fear another quake could cause their buildings to collapse. Everyone is sleeping outside on the grass and it has been pouring rain. Villagers are fighting over the few tarps they have, as well as battling over the few items of fresh food that they can find. Many villagers have cuts and injuries that cannot be properly treated at this time, so we are in a huge hurry to get out there and help. It sounds like this is the situation throughout most of the cities mentioned above – it’s really quite catastrophic.
Many of the villagers simply want OFF their islands, but even that can be unsafe. Our mate Rock, who was on the 180-ton boat “Nauli”, was anchored at Asu at the time and got the scare of his life when his behemoth of a tugboat was drug at anchor. He said the first jolt was like being punched from below. The tide then went way out as he rushed to evacuate the whole island of over 100 people. He feared another tsunami was going to hit, but fortunately it never did. However, he now estimates the island is now 3 – 5 meters higher than it initially was. That’s amazing work by Rock to think of the islanders first.
One of the most dramatic pieces of evidence of the lifting of the reefs comes from our friend Willy who runs the Benang Island Simeulue Resort, www.simeulue.com. Willy is a really good-natured fella who seems to have maintained his sense of humor throughout this entire ordeal. For example, when he sent Scuzz an email updating him on his situation, the title was “How Much Can a Koala Bear?” But there’s not joking about the fact that the poor guy, and all the citizens of Simeulue, have been through hell since the first quake. They were all just still recovering from the tsunami when the latest quake hit, and it hit them many times harder than the first one. Most of the aerial photos in this update are from Willy, who had to evacuate his friend Jonny and Dewi’s dad. Jonny and Dewi’s dad described it as the scare of a lifetime. The aerial view of the large house is Willy’s house. He said that previously there was no more than 3 meters of land in front of his house before the water touched the shore. Now there is over 30 meters of land. The house itself, seen close up in the photo with a shocked Johnny pictured in front, incurred major structural damage. Willy also said in that in the photo with the dry-docked boat the reef used to stick out about a meter from the shore; now it juts out like a major peninsula. It’s just amazing, shocking stuff, and this is a perfect example of the destruction and changes they are seeing throughout Simeulue.
So now the question is what’s being done, and what’s going to be done. IDEP got the ball rolling early on Tuesday morning by deploying of a team of experienced Indonesian Search & Rescue (SAR) & evacuation volunteers who traveled by ferry from Sibolga (Aceh) to Nias’ devastated capital Gunung Sitoli. More local volunteers followed quickly behind them, taking the ferry at 10 pm on Thursday night. The first team is currently working on rescuing people from the rubble and assisting in local refugee camps. The second team will also facilitate the reestablishment of basic communications on the island, and will travel overland to Mabrehe (also on Nias) to repair an SSB radio tower that an IDEP team installed there one month ago. IDEP’s aid delivery vessel, the Endless Sun, is on its way to the area now, stocked with hundreds of tons of aid, and should arrive in Sibolga on Tuesday the 5th. If support is available they will try to acquire some small fishing boats that can be used to facilitate aid delivery on the islands. Much of the aid on the Endless Sun was already earmarked for urgent needs on Aceh’s mainland, so the vessel’s project manager is currently in Banda Aceh organizing additional aid from the UN to be loaded onto the boat for delivery to the most recently devastated islands.
Sumatran Surfariis has it’s own very specific mission, which we hope to coordinate with IDEP to ensure that the most ground is covered in the most efficient manner possible. Tomorrow night, Southern Cross will set out on its April 2-16 mission that was initially set to be JUST a surf trip, but the Californian guests have agreed to help spend part of their time on relief and aid projects. The boat will be somewhat full with surf gear, but we will be using every bit of available space to bring supplies as we travel up through the Telos and Hinakos, on to Nias, and eventually up to the Banyaks and Simeulue. This trip will be essential for information gathering and surveying the new terrain. After some juggling to our surf trip schedule (and again some gracious understanding from our passengers to change boats), we’ve arranged to have our second largest boat, Asia, available for a full-on aid and relief mission from April 9 – 29. We will use the information gathered by the first journey on the Southern Cross, and we also hope to have Samantha from IDEP on this leg. Southern Cross will then head back out for an additional relief mission from April 18 - May 2. This trip was originally scheduled to be our sort of “first trip back” to the affected areas and we planned on doing some relief work, research, and rebuilding during this trip anyway. However, with the recent quake, the urgency and focus of this trip has changed dramatically. The Southern Cross is then set to go back out from May 4 - 18 with a group of 8 surfers, but again we’re hoping that the crew will be enthusiastic about helping those in need for at least a small portion of their trip. Lastly, we have a few passengers that we are hoping to move so that we can free up Asia so it can do one last relief mission from April 30 – May 14. It will require a great deal of corporation and understanding to get this last leg, but if we pull it off, we’ll essentially have 2 or our larger boats out in the water from early April to mid May to provide relief to these islands.
We are just a small group of surfers, but we are doing what we can to help, and it’s nice to know that many of our plans have been implemented and are beginning to show rewards. One of the projects that we speak of most often, and that we are most proud of, is the building of the “pig-impenetrable” fruit and vegetable garden on Bawa. With the generous funding from the Woodleigh School in Victoria and the Clean Ocean Foundation, the garden is really taking shape. We are employing 30 local Indonesians for this project, including Ajo the horticulturalist. He’s been instrumental this project by performing essential tasks such as testing the soil, measuring water levels, designing the field, directing us as to the best seeds to buy, and many other key tasks. We feel good that we are providing the villagers with both an immediate source of income, and a sustainable one for the long run. For example, had this quake happened in a year, the villagers of Bawa could have helped many by providing fresh fruit and vegetables to those in need. Also, the villagers can always sell their product to the visiting surfers in the area. Sumatran Surfariis’ very own Ovi, who grew up and lives on Bawa, has also been a key player in this project. Ovi is a personal friend of this webmaster, and I almost get choked up when I hear about how much he has emerged as a leader to his village, and also a no-questions-asked helping force to the nearby islands of Nias, Asu, Simeulue and the Banyaks.
We will hopefully have new inspirational stories to report in future updates. The Indonesians are an extremely resilient and upbeat group of people, and we are confident we can help them land back on their feet soon. Please consider donating to our relief effort. There is information on how to make a tax-deductible donation directly to our mission through the Clean Ocean Foundation here. Clean ocean will issue you a receipt which you can file for your taxes, and we can personally guarantee you that we will use the money in the most grass roots way there is – by traveling to the most remote, inaccessible places in Northern Sumatra and delivering aid and medical attention in person to those who need it most.
Thanks, and we’ll keep you posted. Take care.
APRIL 3rd UPDATE
Hello everyone. This is just a brief update to you keep you posted on our latest findings, as well as the status of our relief mission. We should have much more detailed information and photos soon, as Scuzz, the Californian crew, and the rest of our aid workers set foot on some of the devastated regions of northern Sumatra.
As you can see from the photos on this update, we stocked every available nook and cranny of the Southern Cross with relief supplies to take on it’s way up through the Telos, Hinakos, Nias, the Banyaks, and Simeulue. This wouldn’t have been possible without the cooperation of the Californian guests who were originally scheduled for just a normal surf trip. Mike Stenkilsson, Darren Stiles, Kevin McCarthy, David Lewis, Matt Stevens, Jeff Sivas, Matt Carrillo, and Bowen Ota all need to be thanked for not only sacrificing a great deal of comfort and elbow room on this journey, but also for agreeing to spend part of their surf trip helping those in desperate need of aid in this region. They are bringing as much essential survival material that they can fit, such as rice, noodles, fresh fruit and veggies, water, kerosene, and basic supplies for eating and digging. This trip will serve as a major surveying project so that the trips to follow can carry more specific products, and more of them, to the proper places.
The recent tragedy has also inspired one of our long-time return customers to make a special trip out to help those in need. Luis Renato Brand (a.k.a. “Mano”) is a surgeon from Curitiba, Brazil who usually comes out at least once a year to spend several weeks surfing with us. However this year Mano began a university job and was finding it impossible to come over with his new schedule. But after this most recent catastrophe, the pull to help was too great: “My mind tells me to come and leave all my jobs here and stay in indo as much it is needed.” This webmaster can tell you from personal experience that Mano does AMAZING work. I fell forward on a shallow reef up north, cutting my right hand badly. I didn’t even want to look at it at the time, but today I have trouble finding any evidence I was every even cut. Luis’ skills will be an extraordinary asset to the relief effort, but equally important is his positive and heartwarming personality. He puts everyone’s mind at ease and has a great way of relating to all cultures, and that’s exactly the type of people we need to make this relief effort successful.
The help cannot come soon enough, as the news continues to be heartbreaking. Word just came in from Scuzz just before he left that an Australian Aid helicopter had crashed in Teluk Dalam. We’ll give you more information on this as it develops, but preliminary information from Scuzz is that 9 of the 14 passengers have perished in this crash. Our hearts go out to the family members of those who lost their lives while unselfishly trying to help others.
We have also received further word from Dr. Kerry Sieh, our geologist friend from Caltech. He said the earthquake on March 26th appears to have been caused by a 3 – 10 meter slip on the megathrust under southern Simeulue to southern Nias, with the biggest patch of slip between Nias and Simeulue, west of the Banyaks. Members of Kerry’s crew will be heading out to the Mentawais and Batus this week to download their GPS units and send the data back to Caltech ASAP to see if anything strange has happened there. They have already received information from their stations in Bulasat, Tello, Singabang, and Sikaui, which should be processed within the next two days. This information should be very telling, and it should also give them a good idea whether or not anything fishy happened in the Mentawais or Batus.
Kerry himself will be back in Sumatra from mid-May through early-June to continue documenting what happened. In the meantime, he has asked Scuzz to check on the small island of Memong, which lies a few hundred meters north of the equator. Kerry says the land rises to about 4 meters above sea level at the highest point, with much of the island rising only to about 2 meters. He feels that even if a much smaller tsunami hit that didn’t’ register on the radar, even one of only 3 meters, they may have lost everything. There are about 20 wooden houses in the village Kerry befriended, so our thoughts are with the villagers of this small island.
As we said at the end of our last update, we hope to have more positive stories to report soon. But as of now, things are still very, very heavy. Please send you best wishes and positive vibes to the citizens of this area, as they will surely need it. And if you want to make a contribution to our relief effort, there is information on how to do so here.
Terima kasih – Slayer the web dork.
© 2002 sumatransurfariis.com. All rights reserved.
Address: Hotel Baaing Arau - Jalan Batang Arau #33, Padang 25118 - West Sumatra, Indonesia