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Day 2: Reconnaissance amid security concerns

Field Report - 04 Oct 18

Palu, Sulawesi

by Andrew Strunk - Team Leader

After waking early this morning, the focus of Day 2 was to travel to Donggala to the north west of Palu and assess the area. There were reports coming in of limited aid and assistance in villages to the west, with road access still cut off to some pockets.

As fuel is still a concern we travelled by scooter as opposed to car with six of us spread across three bikes.

After reliable sources warned of heightened security concerns in the Donggala region, we were accompanied by two military policemen for our own safety.

The journey north from Palu took us through some of the low-lying coastal areas to the west of Palu bay. Having viewed the huge land shifts and widespread devastation of the earthquake hit districts of Palu, we were unprepared for the sheer destruction of homes that had stood in the path of the tsunami.

Housing rubble, furniture, shipping containers and cars lay scattered- mud stained like they had been dropped in to a huge blender and then strewn across the landscape.

Quickly the mood changed from what we had witnessed in Palu. Locals in these areas took turns between scouring for their belongings amongst the debris and manning improvised checkpoints, created from rubber strips, timber planks and palm fronds, forcing vehicles to slow so that they could beg for basic necessities.

On arrival in Donggala we met with local government officials and had the opportunity to introduce ourselves and describe how we could hopefully be of assistance to the local populace. Our intel was correct and the officials there described up to eleven sub-villages of Donggala regency still in dire need.

Road access is still limited to many areas with vehicles having to ferry some of the severely injured to one side of the debris and then carry the casualties across, before being met by vehicles on the other side.

These hard-hit and more isolated locations will be the focus of our operations moving forward with our mobile team starting to work through the area tomorrow. Our goal will comprise of travelling by vehicle as far as possible, before loading up our medical kits and hiking in to the villages and providing treatment in situ, then facilitating transport out if required.

Further BPM clinicians arrive tomorrow morning, prior to a departure for Donggala and hopefully our first day in the field operating from temporary treatment locations in the most affected, remote parts of the region.

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