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Humanitarian Stories from Indonesia

The 2004 Tsunami

Situated between the Indian and Pacific oceans, Indonesia consists of more than thirteen thousand islands. Its population is estimated at more than 260 million people making it the fourth most populous country in the world. Through the years it has faced many humanitarian crises, including the 2004 tsunami.

A brief history of Indonesia

Indonesia has been an important region for trade since the 7th century. Trade ships would sail in and out transporting all sorts of cargo. Throughout history, Indonesia has been influenced by foreign powers because of its natural resources. Dutch colonialism started in the 1800s in Amboina and Batavia, and eventually all of the archipelagoes including Timor and West Papua. After World War II Indonesia fought for and secured its independence. The state of Indonesia has been turbulent throughout its history. Mass slaughter, corruption, and separatism were all causes of different humanitarian crises. The country is also incredibly vulnerable to natural disasters, like the one that occurred in 2004.

The earthquake which set off the tsunami was initially documented at a magnitude of 8.8. In February 2005, scientists revised the estimate of the magnitude to 9.0, making it one of the most powerful earthquakes in history. The hypocenter of the main earthquake was approximately 160 km off the western coast of the northern part of the Indonesian island Sumatra. Despite a time difference of multiple hours between the first earthquake and the impact of the tsunami, nearly all of the victims were taken by surprise. Since there were no tsunami warning systems located in the area to detect tsunamis or to warn the general population living around the ocean.

On three specific small islands: Weh, Breuh, and Deudap, coastal villages were completely destroyed by the tsunami waves. The tsunami also stranded cargo ships and barges and destroyed a cement factory near the Lampuuk coast. The high number of casualties in Indonesia, confirmed at 130,736, is mainly due to the unpreparedness of the population for such an event. Besides, 500,000 inhabitants were displaced. United Nations estimated at the outset that the relief operation would be the costliest in human history. Governments and NGOs feared that the final death toll might double as a result of diseases but in the end, this fear did not materialize.

We have been taking compassionate humanitarians to Indonesia for many years. Therefore, our knowledge of this vulnerable country is second to none. Do not hesitate to contact us should you require up-to-date travel information about any uncommon destination. We are glad to provide the necessary assistance from any of our 17 offices around the world. Contact a local Raptim office through our quick address locator to gain more insight on the current conditions of Indonesia.