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Massive Asia quake puts World Vision aid agency staff on standby to deploy; Tsunami warning brings reminders of 2004 Asian disaster

From World Vision:

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia, 11 April 2012 — Emergency relief staff with aid agency World Vision are on standby after one of the largest earthquakes to hit Asia since the 2004 Asian tsunami struck off the coast of Indonesia. The latest quake measuring 8.8 struck 430 km from Banda Aceh, the capital of the province of Aceh and resulted in a pan-Indian Ocean tsunami warning that sent people in Aceh running for the hills. A tsunami warning was also issued in Southern Thailand, which was struck by the 2004 Asian tsunami and then resulted in the deaths of thousands of people.

Billy Sumuan, Humanitarian and Emergencies director for World Vision in Indonesia, said : “Everyone is in a state of nervousness. We have been in touch with our project staff in Aceh and they reported that everyone was running for higher ground. People in Aceh remember the tsunami like it was yesterday. It has been burned into our minds because so many people lost loved ones and because whole towns were literally wiped off the face of the earth. No one who lived through that takes these warnings lightly.”

Speaking from Aceh, Sumatra and Java operations director Charles Asinaga told colleagues in Jakarta: “There was a real sense of panic after the quake struck. People crowded the streets to flee the coast. The telephone lines are still clogged with people phoning loved ones. It’s very difficult to get information. We are waiting for news from the cities on the coastal areas, including southern parts of the province like Meulaboh and the small islands near the epicenter.”

World Vision has a permanent team of emergency responders ready to deploy not just in Indonesia but in all nations at-risk from this current potential tsunami, as well as a humanitarian and emergencies operating base in Singapore. World Vision staff are reporting tremors in Sri Lanka, Nepal, Singapore, Malaysia and India -some offices have been evacuated and are moving to higher ground. The situation is being monitored closely.

“We have teams on standby across those countries who have so far been impacted or at threat of tsunami damage. Communities have been alerted and it is our priority to secure the safety of children and the vulnerable,” says Geoff Shepherd, World Vision Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs Director, Asia Pacific.

Typically World Vision works closely with local authorities, the government, the UN and other NGOs to determine the needs after any major catastrophe. These include providing tents, kitchen sets, food and water. Humanitarian workers including logistics and procurement staff are ready to be deployed if the earthquake impacts communities.

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