Current Operations
Logistics and Emergency Telecommunications Clusters support to the Humanitarian community’s response to West Sumatra earthquakes in cooperation with the Government of Indonesia

On September 30, 2009 at 5:16 pm, a powerful earthquake struck off the western Sumatra coast in Indonesia, measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale. The epicenter was 45 km west-northwest of the port city of Padang, Sumatra (population approximately 900,000). A second quake measuring 6.2 RS occurred 22 minutes later. A third 6.8 rs quake struck an inland area 225 km southeast of Padang early the following morning. 

The cumulative impact of these events caused a broad swath of destruction. Three villages in the path of the disaster in Pariaman Padang District appear to have been completely leveled and most of their inhabitants may have been buried due to a subsequent landslide. Access to these areas remains difficult and the rain is also hampering early relief efforts.

According to provincial authorities the official death toll was placed at 704 people, with another 295 people missing and presumed dead, primarily in Padang Pariaman District 746 people seriously injured, 1,344 people slightly injured. Damage to houses was widespread with 102,046 homes severely damaged, 49,864 moderately damaged, and another 54,606 damaged, rendering homeless an estimated quarter of a million families, many too frightened to re-inhabit their premises. Hospitals, schools, places of worship, government buildings and public infrastructure were all strongly affected. 2,842 schools were damaged, nearly half of these severely. These numbers are changing daily and are likely to increase, as the assessment extends to rural areas.

The initial impact was concentrated in the cities of Padang and Pariaman and adjacent areas, resulting in extensive damage to buildings, numerous landslides, particularly in the District of Padang Pariaman, and topographical disturbances. The National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) confirmed that the most heavily affected areas include: Padang City (estimated population 900,000), Pariaman City (population 49,867), Bukittinggi City (population 91,000), Solok (estimated population 54,049) and Padang Panjang City (estimated population 40,000), along with the districts ofPadang Pariaman, Pesisir Selatan and Pasaman Barat. Risk factors included proximity to the epicenter, geological factors, poor construction practices, and pre-existing damage from a 2007 earthquake. Low-lying coastal areas with heavy alluvial silt were also strongly affected, with up to 80 percent of houses destroyed in neighborhoods such as Chinatown in Padang.

From the outset, the Government of Indonesia led the response to the emergency across the affected regions, and welcomed coordinated humanitarian support. To complement Government efforts, a United Nations Disaster and Assessment Coordination Team was approved. The UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator, supported by the United Nations and international humanitarian community, has been supporting the response of the Government, through the cluster structure already in place. The Government’s response is coordinated by the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB), as well as the Governor of West Sumatra at the provincial level, and involves multiple line ministries, such as Health, Education, Social Welfare, Women’s Empowerment, Planning, Public Works, the Army and many faith-based organisations. As many as 115 international non governmental organizations have assisting in the response. In addition, a number of bilateral aid agencies have been deployed, with pledges of further assistance forthcoming.

The cluster structure has been established on the ground and is in full operation, and an initial rapid assessment was conducted of the affected areas using a planning method previously developed in the cluster system’s contingency planning process. Logistics and Emergency Telecommunications are overarching priorities to support programmatic responses.

Through this Special Operation, WFP will in its capacity as Logistics and Emergency Telecommunications Clusters lead, and on behalf of the humanitarian community, support the efforts of the Indonesia authorities. The operation provides for the assets, equipment, staff, systems and facilities necessary to ensure:

  • an uninterrupted supply chain of life saving relief items to the affected areas through the provision of logistics common services;
  • the coordination of and information management for the logistics response; and
  • the operational and telecommunication capability for the humanitarian community to respond to the crisis.
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