Indonesia Death Toll from Earthquake and Tsunami Tops 1,407 as Desperation Mounts - Word&Way

Indonesia Death Toll from Earthquake and Tsunami Tops 1,407 as Desperation Mounts

The Indonesian island of Sulawesi was rocked by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake and subsequent 20-foot-high tsunami on September 28, followed by a volcanic eruption on the same island just days later. The current death toll is reportedly 1,407 and is expected to climb, with hundreds more reported injured. An estimated 70,000 persons have been left homeless and desperate as aid struggles to reach the area. Rescue efforts are currently underway to assist those still trapped under rubble.

Map of the September 28, 2018 Palu, Indonesia earthquake (USGS)Map of the September 28, 2018 Palu, Indonesia earthquake (USGS)Most of the damage occurred in the city of Palu, with a population of more than 335,000, where communication has been cut off and transportation made very difficult due to landslides and collapsed bridges.

Transform Aid International/Baptist World Aid Australia noted, “the Sulawesi earthquake and tsunami is shaping [up] to be a huge humanitarian disaster. It is believed that up to 100,000 people could be impacted by this, with huge implications for severe health risks, [and] lack of uncontaminated water, food and shelter. There will also be long-term recovery needs. Aid organizations are experiencing tremendous challenges getting to the region and assessing the scale of needs.”

This is the first opportunity to implement the newly inaugurated Baptist Forum for Aid and Development (BFAD), which began this July at the BWA Annual Gathering and will be facilitated by Baptist World Aid. BFAD is working to enhance greater collaboration in the global Baptist response. A rapid assessment team is travelling to Sulawesi to provide psychological support, as well as an initial supply of food and non-food items. Baptist aid agencies known to have already responded include Rebana (the Indonesian Baptist relief and development agency), Asia Pacific Baptist Aid, Transform Aid International, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, BMS World Mission, American Baptist International Ministries and Rescue 24. 

The BWA asks to keep those affected in your prayers, as well as those providing assistance. “The worldwide Baptist family stands in solidarity with the people of Sulawesi, Indonesia. You are in our prayers and we continue to ask God to comfort you during this tragedy,” Baptist World Alliance General Secretary Dr. Elijah M. Brown said.

For additional information on how Baptist professional aid organizations can participate in BFAD generally or specifically in relation to this crisis, please email If you would like to give financially to support the relief efforts in Sulawesi, donations can be made by visiting or by mail to 405 North Washington Street, Falls Church, VA 22046 USA.