INDONESIA Eyewitness report from the disaster zone

 Emergency Response
 2nd Oct 2009

At 9:00 pm local time, on Thursday, October 1, CARE worker Bahtra Tarigan arrived at the airport in Padang on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia with the rest of the CARE emergency response team. There is no power and no functional communications. By texting on his cell phone, Bahtra has been able to send short updates to the outside world about what he is seeing in the earthquake-devastated city. Information in italics was added for clarity; all other text is verbatim from Bahtra’s text messages.

October 1, 2009, 9:25 p.m.
“Just arrived at the MINANGKABAU airport at 9pm local time. Signal indicated zero, electricity still black out for the whole city. I am trying to look for somewhere to stay here. Coordination meeting postponed to 7 a.m. tomorrow. If I can go to the barracks tonight then let u know. No rental car here.”

October 2, 00:01 a.m.
“Along the main road from the airport to the city so many buildings n houses collapsed n heavy damage. People prefer to stay in the terrace outside for sleeping, they r worried there will be EQ (earthquake) again. Evacuation works still ongoing in the most damaged area in the city. I met with the Indonesia Radio Station – RRI Padang, (which is) the info centre for missing people. They said there are 2 regions the most damaged, City of PADANG n District of Pariaman.”

00:06 a.m.
“I plan to visit the SATKORLAK now in the Governor office. Hopefully I can get the statistic data there, then send the information. It can take time, since the city still black n I can only walk to everywhere now.”

00:29 a.m.
“I am lucky for this signal. Coordination for rapid assessment and ECB* joint needs assessment tomorrow morning 7 am and evening 7.30 pm.”

00:37 a.m.
“I will be joint with the ECB Team to do rapid assessment tomorrow at the same time I try to up date you the real info from the ground so that you can HELP from CEG (CARE International Emergency Response Team) for raising funds on this response.”

01:07 a.m.
“My feeling is it can be same as Jogja (devastating Yogyakarta earthquake in 2006). And I think most INGOs (humanitarian aid agencies) only look at the city of Padang affected for the 1st step. I believe the District of Parlaman (around 40km fr Padang) is the biggest affected. That is why I will be going there after ECB meeting.”

01:15 a.m.
“My satphone (satellite phone) not working yet. I am sitting near the street now and no hotel room tonight. It doesn’t matter for me. So many people are sleeping outside. Hopefully the satphone will work tomorrow.”

* The Emergency Capacity Building (ECB) Project is a joint initiative between six aid agencies, including CARE, launched in 2005, funded by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The ECB project aims to share resources and knowledge to improve the speed, quality, and effectiveness of emergency response work.

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