Media CenterCRS Teams Deployed to Indonesia Tsunami Response; Assist Local Partners

Photo by Putu Sayoga/Redux for CRS

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Kim Pozniak
Catholic Relief Services
[email protected]


Updated October 3, 2018

A Catholic Relief Services (CRS) team from Indonesia is on the ground in Palu, where a deadly earthquake and tsunami killed at least 1,400 people and left tens of thousands homeless. The local CRS team is working closely with our Caritas partner and additional teams have been deployed from around the world to assist with pipeline logistics, temporary shelter and relief supplies. 

“In Balaroa village, on the outskirts of Palu, everything is destroyed,” reported CRS’ Fatwa Fadillah. “The streets are ruined and there’s no water or sanitation facilities for people gathered in shelters. Most families only have one tarp and one mat. It’s extremely hot and most people are sitting under tarps, just waiting.”

While survivors of the twin disasters are in desperate need of food, water and shelter—and being able to communicate with family —getting aid to Palu has been slowed due to crippled and impassable roads, a lack of fuel and insecurity due to the mounting desperation. CRS/Indonesia staff and partners report a scene of destruction as the government search and rescue teams continue to look for survivors five days after the massive tsunami, triggered by a 7.5 earthquake, washed away homes and left a path of devastation. The death toll is expected to rise as responders reach more remote areas and dig through the rubble of toppled buildings.

“At Talise beach, where the tsunami came ashore, it’s a scene of devastation,” Fadillah said. “All along the coast, you can see just how massive the tsunami was and the extent of the damage. Body bags are lining the road and the smell is almost unbearable.”

CRS will support Caritas staff and volunteers to respond to people’s most urgent needs with temporary shelter materials like tarps, blankets and sleeping mats, as well as sanitation kits, clean-up and other supplies.

CRS and its local partners have decades of experience responding to disasters in Indonesia, a country prone to earthquakes, and where a tsunami killed hundreds of thousands of people in 2004. For updates, go to the CRS Press Room.



BALTIMORE, MD, September 30, 2018 -- A Catholic Relief Services (CRS) emergency response team is en-route to Palu, the city most affected by the tsunami that struck Indonesia on Friday, following a 7.5 magnitude earthquake, and has killed at least 800 people and toppled buildings, shopping malls and mosques. Infrastructure has also been badly damaged, and with landslides blocking roads, getting immediate relief to survivors has been a challenge.

“Humanitarian groups are struggling to get people into affected areas,” said Yenni Suryani, CRS’ Indonesia country manager from Jakarta. “With the airport damaged, getting access to Palu and Donggala is a huge problem. Responders and local aid groups are having to drive overland 10-12 hours. That means a bottleneck for relief supplies in coming days. Landslides are hindering road travel in some places. There’s very limited electricity in Palu but power is out almost everywhere. Some mobile phone towers have been repaired allowing limited communication, but it’s unreliable.”

While government agencies search for survivors, fears are mounting that the death toll will climb in the coming days and weeks. “There’s a dramatic rescue operation happening in Palu as people are calling out from under the rubble of a shopping mall and hotel,” Suryani said. “Last night, witnesses reported seeing lights, possibly from cell phones, under collapsed buildings.”

CRS teams, deployed to support local partners in the area, are ready to address immediate needs with relief supplies, including tarps, blankets and sleeping mats and also sanitation and clean-up kits.

“The lack of water and fuel will be an additional challenge. The closest reliable fuel points are hours from the affected area, and that will hamper reaching more distant communities and transporting relief goods,” Suryani said.

CRS has many years of experience responding to disasters in Indonesia, a country that experiences frequent earthquakes and was devastated by the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004.

For updates on the response to the earthquake and tsunami in Sulawesi, Indonesia, go to the CRS Press Room.


Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, please visit or and follow CRS on social media: Facebook, @CatholicRelief@CRSnewsYouTube, Instagram and Pinterest.

Kim Pozniak

Director of Communications

Kim Pozniak
October 3, 2018

Based in Baltimore, MD

As the Director of Communications, Kim oversees the communications and social media teams working with journalists and the media to connect them with engaging stories about relief and development programs that are making a tangible difference in people’s lives around the world.

Her previous work at CRS includes handling emergency...More