Australia Boosts Financial Aid in Wake of Indonesian Quake

Australia will pledge a further $5 million in financial aid to Indonesia to assist the country, after a powerful earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 1,200 people.

The Federal Government has announced the funding that will be given to the Indonesian Red Cross for disaster relief services, adding to an initial $500,000 donated to the nation.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said it will be used to provide emergency support.

“The $5 million package will include emergency healthcare support in the initial phase up to 21 days,” Ms Payne said, speaking from Washington.

“That is 54 medical professionals from Australia in Indonesia establishing a temporary emergency and surgical care field hospital.”

The teams would also be providing more emergency relief supplies, including water, hygiene kits and generators.

Ms Payne said Australia would be providing as much assistance as possible despite difficulties.

“It’s an extraordinary challenge,” she said.

“I understand there are significant challenges from liquefaction, so solid earth turning effectively into quick sand that makes movement and engagement very difficult.”

“I’ve spoken before about the remoteness of the location in Sulawesi in particular. So we are looking forward to, as best we can, supporting our Indonesian neighbours at this time of great need.”

The magnitude 7.5 earthquake and following tsunami struck the island of Sulawesi last week, destroying thousands of buildings and affecting more than 2.6 million people.

At least 1,234 people have been killed.

The death toll rose overnight after the discovery of 34 people, mostly children, found in a church recreation hall in Sigi Biromaru, south of the capital Palu.

Nearly 62,000 people have been displaced from their homes.

Ms Payne did not rule out offering further assistance if the situation worsened.

Australia has also offered Australian Defence Force to the Indonesian Government to assist with their response.

More than 25 countries have offered assistance after Indonesian President Joko Widodo appealed for international help.

The UN humanitarian office reported that “needs are vast” with people needing shelter, clean water, food, fuel, emergency medical assistance and heavy equipment to move concrete in the search for people.

UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told UN headquarters in New York that the government is coordinating emergency efforts, with UN and relief agencies coordinating emergency efforts.

They are also working with the government to provide technical support.

Most of the attention has been focused on Palu so far, which has been easier to reach.

Teams continued searching for survivors under destroyed houses and buildings including a collapsed eight-story hotel in Palu.

Many people have been believed to be trapped under shattered houses in the Palu neighbourhood of Balaroa.

Near the coast, the tsunami shattered buildings, cracked concrete and flung boats inland with the wave reportedly reaching as high as six metres.

Mr Haq said the Indonesian Ministry of Social Affairs have asked the UN children’s agency UNICEF to send social workers to the affected areas to help children who are alone or separated from families.

Spokesman of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency Sutopo Purwo Nugroho had declined to give an estimate of the death toll in the newly reached areas, but said the count was expected to rise despite hopes it would not.

“We hope the death toll does not rise,” Mr Nugroho said.

“We’re continuing rescue operations but right now the team is racing against time.”

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