A local team from Muslim Aid's offices in Indonesia rushed to the scene when a 6.4 magnitude earthquake stuck the central island of Lombok, east of the island of Bali, early Sunday morning. The team has been distributing assistance several times since to those made homeless and destitute by the eruption which caused 20 deaths and destroyed 1,000 homes.
The fact that a Muslim Aid team was on the ground by the evening of the disaster meant that the organisation has been able to give timely practical and emotional support, according to South East Asia Programme Coordinator Sahedul Islam who described collapsed buildings and streets littered with rubble.
"With our office in north Lombok just three hours from the epicentre of the disaster, we were among the first responders in the village of Sambielen, Lombok Utara. Our quick emergency intervention meant we were able to give out much needed blankets, nappies for the babies, toileteries for women, noodles and fresh drinking water for 200 households within 24 hours. With our second distribution, we provided mats and tarpaulin for shelter for those left homeless", said Sahedul. He explained that many homes have been completely destroyed, but, even where homes have been damaged, people have been too nervous to sleep indoors because of continuing tremors and unstable structures.
One of those who received an emergency pack told Sahedul about the chaos that followed the earthquake: "We woke up to the very strong quake so I grabbed my family to run outside" said Sahrul who has lived in the village for 20 years and is a subsistence farmer, growing cassava and corn. "My wife and child both got hit by debris as we fled. My neighbours ran outside too, we were all was panicking," he continued. Sahrul has lost his home, the latrine he had at the back of his property and most of the crops he and his family were depending on for their foodstuffs.
Sahedul says that, now the early panic is over, a great community spirit is emerging amongst the villagers. They have welcomed Muslim Aid's appropriate assistance and been identifying their own on-going needs to the Muslim Aid staff. So, before the end of the week, Muslim Aid will distribute underwear to women and temporary latrines which the community will install.
Local and national Indonesian disaster management authorities have stepped in to manage the longer-term response.
Indonesia is prone to earthquakes because it lies on the Ring of Fire - the line of frequent quakes and volcanic eruptions that circles virtually the entire Pacific rim. More than half of the world's active volcanoes above sea level are part of the ring.
Due to continued seismic activity, there are still ongoing tremors and quakes in the area hit in Sunday's earthquake. Early this morning a 4.0 quake hit Sumbawa district. Muslim Aid Indonesia will continue to monitor the situation