"The scale of devastation in Central Sulawesi is so huge from the earthquake, tsunami and mudslides. As of now, 1,200 people confirmed died, 18,000 people in the emergency camps and thousands people are still missing. The death toll may reach thousands as there were no reports coming in from worst-hit-areas due to poor communication signals and blackouts. Communication access is limitedly restored, mainly in Palu City. But we still cannot reach anyone in 3 districts, including Parigi Moutong District, where we worked with farmer organisations in cocoa until 2016. This makes it difficult for anyone outside the affected area to find out if their family members, friends, colleagues who live in the affected areas are OK.
The roads to enter the areas were damaged but now some roads can be accessed again, though limited. Emergency supplies are transported by road and plane. Heavy equipment to help the search and rescue operation is limited, so people are mainly using the available material in Palu City. The limited road access makes it difficult to bring in the equipment from other areas.
As for the partner organisations of Rikolto... The organisations we currently work with are located in West Sulawesi and East Sulawesi. They felt the earthquake but so far no casualties reported. However, some of them have families living in the affected areas in Central Sulawesi and they still wait for news, having high hopes that it is just a matter of communication access problems. We have not heard news from our previous partner in Parigi Moutong and some good friends like Dr. Muslimin from the University of Tadulako and Cocoa Forum of Central Sulawesi.
Our colleagues Peni and Dominique were in Toraja (South Sulawesi) when the 7.4 magnitude quake hit. We also have two colleagues permanently living in South Sulawesi to support our programme activities. They and their families are safe, though shaken by the earthquake. When the worst magnitude-quake hit, Sarif was on the 14th floor in Makassar (South Sulawesi) and had to climb down the staircases – he managed.
After waiting for 15 hours, Decy, our IT collague, who is also involved in the Bike Classics, finally heard news from his children and family who are living in Palu. They are fine. Also Akbar, our logistician, finally got good news from his family in the affected area. They now try to reach Palu by road to check how they are, and to bring some supplies.
We appreciate very much all the attention and support from the colleagues and friends worldwide."