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Friday, December 9, 2016
CAFOD flies aid to earthquake island
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¬†CAFOD partners were last night trying to arrange for an aid flight to the island of Nias where its believed thousands of people may have died after the powerful earthquake that rocked the area on Monday. The earthquake off the western coast of Sumatra measured 8.7 on the Richter scale and triggered tsunami alerts across the region. As part of Caritas, the worldwide network of Catholic relief agencies, CAFOD is working in Indonesia through the Catholic Relief Services (CRS). They have been working in Banda Aceh, Meulaboh and Medan since the tsunami in December. Last night their staff evacuated offices, houses and hotels in the three areas and all 150 are now accounted for. Today they are hoping to fly medical supplies and personnel to Nias and begin assessing the damage to the region. Initial fears that a second tsunami would engulf the surrounding area created panic in coastal regions. In Sri Lanka where CAFOD are working in Batticaloa staff and partners moved inland. CAFOD Emergencies Officer, Alistair Dutton, from Oxford, who is in Batticaloa, said: "News of the earthquake reached us around 11.30 in the evening. We listed to the radio and looked at the internet but it was unclear whether or not a tsunami would result. Neighbours in the area gathered around our house looking for lifts to safer areas and as a precaution we moved to the office with them. Many others living close to the coast also made their way into the centre of town. "The longer-term effects of this scare, however, are not yet known. We are trying to help communities overcome their fears of returning to their land and last night will certainly have set us back several weeks." CAFOD is also working in Indonesia with its partners the Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS) in Meulaboh, Medan, Lamno and Banda Aceh. They were also caught up in the latest tsunami panic but managed to contact all their staff and report that the areas where they are working are calm again. Since the Asia tsunami disaster on Boxing Day, CAFOD have raised over £9 million for work in the region and is also due to receive around £14 million from the Disasters Emergency Committee tsunami appeal. CAFOD has so far pledged £3 million to relief and rehabilitation work in Indonesia and is planning to spend around £5 million on the longer-term redevelopment that is needed there.
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