Volcano Merapi: Malteser International on emergency standby
Support for earthquake victims continues to involve the Malteser teams
‘We’re ready, if a new and stronger eruption happens at any time,’ Volker Stapke, project coordinator for Malteser International in Java declares. ‘If it blows, we’ll immediately send medical staff to an evacuation point defined by the government, ready to provide first aid for evacuees.’
The ring of fire
As part of the government’s regional emergency plan, a Malteser International medical team is on standby to provide medical emergency relief for any injured. Following the eruption of 9 June, 15,000 people from the surrounding villages fled. Luckily, the lava flows and hot gas clouds, did not reach the settlements on the edge of the volcano. But authorities have put the areas around Merapi, one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the ‘Pacific Ring of Fire,’ on red alert. Most villages within seven kilometres from the peak are inside the danger zone.
Merapi killed 1,300 people in 1930. During its last eruption in 1994, most of the 70 deaths were caused by hot ash and other material spewed out following the collapse of a lava dome.
Bantul earthquake, two weeks on
Since the 27 May earthquake, Malteser International has been operating at emergency levels in Yogyakarta and Bantul, 50 kilometres south of Mount Merapi. In hard hit Bantul, four medical practitioners and six nurses attend patients – many severely injured – in an emergency hospital run by Malteser International. The hospital, evacuated during last Thursday’s eruption, provides 25 beds for inpatients. Malteser International continues its support of the local hospitals and healthcare centres, all still overcrowded two weeks after the earthquake. Malteser International surgeons are carrying out complex operations in the hospital in Bantul and from their healthcare post in Jetis, Malteser International teams with mobile clinics are providing treatment for minor injuries to patients in the surrounding villages.
The official death toll for the May ‘quake now stands at 5,782. Two weeks after the earthquake, rehabilitation measures are becoming increasingly important; acute medical help is no longer required. But the local official hospitals are still overcrowded, with many having to wait up to four days for treatment.
On behalf of the local authorities, the Malteser team on the spot has been given charge of the coordination of the medical work in Piyungan – about a fifth of Bantul district – where there are 10,000 inhabitants. The government have also declared that Malteser International staff no longer need a visa to enter the country.
Donors make the difference
Malteser International wishes to express sincere gratitude for the extensive help given by the Order of Malta and the members of Malteser International. We are very grateful for the quick and effective coordination with the Associations of Singapore and the Philippines, enabling us to send new medical personal into the region quickly. We are also very grateful for the financial support from Order Associations worldwide, and from a number of corporations.