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Assessment under way after tsunami

JAKARTA, Indonesia (BP)–Southern Baptist relief workers are assessing needs in the wake of a tsunami that struck remote island villages in western Indonesia Oct. 26.

The 10-foot wave that swept over the villages was created by a 7.7-magnitude earthquake on the same fault line that spawned the 2004 monster wave that killed 230,000 people in countries all around the Indian Ocean.

Early reports indicate at least 113 people were killed and as many as 500 are missing, Indonesia’s Health Ministry crisis center told reporters. Strong winds and rough seas were making it difficult for rescue teams to get to the Mentawai islands, which can only be reached by a 12-hour boat ride, the Associated Press reported.

Humanitarian teams already on the ground in that area are assessing the damage and will report back on how Southern Baptists can respond, said Ben Wolf, who with his wife Pam directs work in the Asia Rim for Baptist Global Response, an international relief and development organization. Indonesia is constantly affected by natural disasters — from floods and typhoons to earthquakes and tsunamis — though none in recent years has been as bad as the 2004 earthquake and tsunami.

Whether Southern Baptist disaster relief volunteers will be needed remains to be seen until the assessment is complete and a relief strategy has been defined, said Jeff Palmer, BGR’s executive director. If disaster relief specialists are needed, Baptist Global Response will mobilize teams from the Baptist state conventions on call.
Compiled by Mark Kelly, an assistant editor with Baptist Press. Baptist Global Response is located on the Internet at www.gobgr.org.

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