Oxfam responds to Yogyakarta earthquake

Published: 29 May 2006

Oxfam's emergency teams are working around the clock to bring clean drinking water and essential supplies to thousands of people made homeless by the Yogyakarta earthquake.

The powerful earthquake, measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale, struck central Java near Yogyakarta, a city of approximately 800,000 people, shortly before 6am local time this morning. Aftershocks continue to shake the city. Oxfam staff have been working hard all day in the affected areas to gauge the needs of the many thousands of people affected and to plan the response.

"Many of our local staff were badly shaken by the quake, and they all have family in the area, so the pressures on them have been immense," said David Macdonald, Oxfam's Country Program manager for Indonesia. "The way they've responded has been really impressive - most people have decided to come in and play an active part in the emergency response."

Three Oxfam teams carried out assessments in Bantul, the worst effected district in the south west of Yogyakarta, and in villages further to the south. In some villages south of the city up to 90% of homes have been destroyed. Many houses constructed from mud and brick have collapsed.

Bantul is a densely populated area, and was closest to the epicenter of the earthquake. Medical facilities in Bantul are overcrowded with injured people. Conditions there were described by an Oxfam aid worker as "pretty grim."

Oxfam's teams are planning to set up water bladders and to truck water to the hospital in Bantul. They will also be distributing hygiene kits with soap, sanitary towels and sarongs.

They estimate that around 30,000 households have been affected by the earthquake, and many people will be sleeping outside tonight. Oxfam has been working in Yogyakarta for ten years and has a team of 20 staff there, all of whom are now accounted for. Additional staff from Aceh, Jakarta and Bangkok are travelling to the city tomorrow. Oxfam has a stock of relief supplies including shelter materials and water and sanitation equipment in Yogyakarta.

"Luckily the contingency planning we'd been doing for a possible eruption of the Merapi volcano has meant we have immediate access to these stocks of equipment stored locally," said Oxfam's David Macdonald. Oxfam's teams are also arranging for 5,000 buckets and jerry cans to be sent from Jakarta. In Yogyakarta, electricity supplies have been lost in some areas and the mobile phone network has been erratic. The system has been overloaded as people try to contact their families. The Yogyakarta airport is also temporarily closed because of damage caused by the earthquake.


Contact Information

Media Co-ordination:
Gemma Swart, Bangkok +66 1 814 7756 Nicky Wimble, UK, +44 7876 476 402

Oxfam Spokespersons in Yogyakarta:
Craig Owen, +62 812 698 9621
Paulette Song, +62 812 8064