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Sulawesi earthquake and tsunami response

Photo of damage and destruction from earthquake to Palu and Dongala in Central Sulawesi.
The earthquake and tsunami on 28 September caused widespread damage and destruction to Palu and Donggala in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. Credit: Plan International.


On 28 September, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, resulting in 1.5 metre tsunami waves that caused widespread damage and destruction to the areas of Palu and Donggala.

On 4 October, Indonesian authorities estimated 2.4 million people were affected. The ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance estimated that some 191,000 people were in need of immediate humanitarian assistance.

As of 22 October, the death toll from the earthquake and tsunami stood at more than 2,000 people, with over 4,600 severely injured and at least 210,000 people displaced from their homes. There is a possibility the death toll will further increase. The damage to homes, buildings and critical infrastructure is widespread, including to health services and schools. Affected people are facing health risks due to the lack of clean water, food and sanitation.

The Indonesian Government is leading the response and outlined initial priority areas for assistance as air transport, shelter kits, water treatment supplies and generators.

Factsheet on Australia's response to the Sulawesi earthquake and tsunami

Infographic on Australia’s response to the Sulawesi earthquake and tsunami. Link to text version below.
Infographic on Australia's response to the Sulawesi earthquake and tsunami. Larger version [PDF 300 KB] | Text version

Australian Government assistance

Photo of Aid supplies being loaded onto a plane from earthquake victims in Indonesia
Australian humanitarian relief supplies are loaded onto an Australian Defence Force C-130 aircraft to provide assistance to affected populations in Central Sulawesi. Credit: ADF.

The Australian Government has committed $10.25 million to support the Indonesian Government and humanitarian partners to respond to the needs of communities impacted by the earthquake and tsunami. This includes:

  • $2 million through the Australian Humanitarian Partnership for Australian non-government organisations (NGOs) to work with their Indonesian partners to provide life-saving support to around 60,000 people by meeting immediate water and sanitation needs, providing shelter, protection services and psychosocial support, and through distribution of essential supplies.
  • Providing hygiene and reproductive health assistance to over 25,000 women and girls through UN agencies and international and local NGOs
  • $1 million for the Red Cross to provide around 80,000 people with access to shelter, sanitation and clean water.
  • Up to $1,000,000 in Australian Government humanitarian relief supplies and logistics support to provide around 30,000 people with essential items including tarpaulins and tools to build shelter, items to ensure people have safe water and access to electricity.

Australia is examining further contributions to the recovery effort, including working with multilateral partners to rehabilitate damaged infrastructure and provide cash assistance to affected populations.

The Australia Defence Force (ADF) is supporting the Indonesian Government in their response efforts, including delivering humanitarian supplies on ADF aircraft.

Nine Australian Defence Force (ADF) C-130 flights have delivered humanitarian supplies and equipment from Darwin to Balikpapan, including tarpaulins, family tents, generators and water purification supplies. An ADF C-17 delivered pre-positioned Australian and ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Centre) supplies from Subang, Malaysia to Balikpapan. An ADF C-130 aircraft has also carried humanitarian supplies between Balikpapan and Palu and evacuated people from affected areas.

Australia will continue to work with the Indonesian Government and partners to identify and address the needs of affected populations.

Offers of assistance

Australia aid supplies next to an airplane
Royal Australian Air Force personnel work with Indonesian Army personnel to unload humanitarian aid supplies from a C-130J Hercules aircraft in Palu, Indonesia. Photo: ADF

The most effective way to help the Central Sulawesi earthquake and tsunami relief effort is to give a cash donation to one of the many Australian non-government organisations appealing for support.

A list of all Australian NGOs responding to the disaster can be found on the Australian Council for International Development's (ACFID) website or through the ABC Appeals Page.

Travel advice and consular assistance

The travel advice for Indonesia on was updated on 3 October with information on the earthquake and its impacts. Australians in the area should monitor media and follow the instructions of local authorities. Australians wishing to depart the area should check with their local travel provider. The level of advice has not changed. Central Sulawesi is designated 'reconsider your need to travel' (level 3 of 4). For travel advice updates, follow @Smartraveller on Twitter.

Media releases

Follow the Foreign Minister @MarisePayne, Australia's Ambassador to Indonesia @DubesAustralia, and @AusHumanitarian on Twitter for more information about Australia's humanitarian response.

Last Updated: 25 October 2018
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