A 7.5-magnitude earthquake occurred in Sulawesi, a major island in central Indonesia, on Sept. 28, triggering a tsunami with waves of 20 feet to hit eastern Sulawesi at 497 mph. BYU-Hawaii Indonesian students shared how although natural disasters are frequent, th Indonesian government doesn’t alert their citizens in an efficient way.
More than 70,000 homes were destroyed and at least 1,500 people died, according to the Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management. The United Nations says almost 200,000 people are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, including tens of thousands of children, according to Aljazeera.com.
In times of disasters, the Indonesian government has always failed to inform the citizens and evacuate them, said Siska Napthalina, a senior from Indonesia majoring in finance. She compared the situations between Indonesia and Hawaii.
“We don’t even have a siren for disasters in Indonesia. Before the hurricane came to Hawaii, we received alerts on our phones. We were warned. There is no such thing in Indonesia. After an earthquake, the government will announce whether there will be a tsunami. They post a statement on social media or there might be a running text at the bottom of the TV.”
Napthalina said the government doesn’t have an efficient way to send out alerts to all citizens. As a result, most people aren’t aware of the upcoming disaster or they don’t have enough time to prepare.
Another problem is while earthquakes happen frequently in Indonesia, people don’t anticipate the dangers of a tsunami, Napthalina explained. “After an earthquake, people might think it’s just another normal earthquake, so right after, they just go out again and back to their daily activities. They’re not aware of the tsunami.”
There is no chapel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the affected area. No student on campus originates from there, according to interviewed Indonesian students. Lyon Jerry Almanda, an Indonesian junior majoring in finance explained, “The Church is small in Indonesia. There are a lot of disasters in Indonesia, but they basically all happened outside of the Church’s boundary.”
Despite that, the Church is still giving aid to the affected area, Almanda shared, “Even though no member lives there, the Church is sending supplies and helping them build houses.”
Tita Mongan, a sophomore from Indonesia studying communications, said her father is still looking for a family of his relatives. Mongan said disasters such as earthquakes and floods happen frequently in Indonesia.
“Earthquakes happen at least once or twice every year in [Indonesia]. Floods and tropical storms happen a lot too,” Mongan said.
Raymond Garry Mocodompis, an intern for BYUH Media Production from Indonesia, said his father lost a relative in the disaster, and it was a sad news for him since he is living in Hawaii far from home.
Mocodompis said this disaster has reminded him that humans cannot fight the nature. He shared, “We just need to be extra prepared to face them. Learn from the previous disaster and try to be ready again if the next one comes.”
When an earthquake occurs, dropping, finding cover, and holding on to something can help you have a better chance of surviving, according to travelchannel.com. Learning the warning signs of a tsunami will allow you to recognize possible danger, which will allow you the chance to find high ground.