On May 15, 2024, Padang Tzu Chi volunteers distributed relief supplies to the Army Headquarters Shelter. | Photo courtesy of Pipi Susanti | Army Headquarters Shelter, Tanah Datar, West Sumatra Province, Indonesia | 2024/05/15

"When Mount Marapi erupted, cold lava and water flooded down the mountainside...," described Darija, a terrified resident, recalling the harrowing scene. "It was terrifying; we live in constant fear every day."

After the floodwaters receded, the disaster area in Agam was covered in thick mud. | Photo courtesy of Pipi Susanti | Agam, West Sumatra Province, Indonesia | 2024/05/15

Mount Marapi Eruption Destroyed Over a Hundred Buildings

On the night of May 11, 2024, at 10 PM, Mount Marapi erupted for the second time. The eruption severely impacted Indonesia's West Sumatra province, affecting the regions of Tanah Datar, Agam, Padangpanjang, Padang Pariaman, and Padang City.

The cold lava mixed with floodwater quickly inundated roads, houses, and mosques, destroying hundreds of buildings. As of noon on May 15, the Indonesian National Disaster Management Agency reported that the disaster had caused 63 fatalities, 33 injuries, 16 missing persons, and affected over 1,500 households.

Volunteers delivered 1,000 emergency relief packages to two shelters: the Army Headquarters Shelter in Tanah Datar and the public kitchen at SD 05 Kubang Putih Elementary School in Agam. | Photo courtesy of Pipi Susanti | Public kitchen at SD 05 Kubang Putih Elementary School, Agam, West Sumatra Province, Indonesia | 2024/05/15

Collaboration with Military to Provide Urgent Supplies

Following the disaster, Tzu Chi volunteers in Padang immediately went to the affected areas to assess the situation and began preparing relief supplies. On May 15, ten volunteers brought 1,000 relief packages, each containing five kilograms of rice, twenty packs of instant noodles, and one liter of cooking oil, to distribute.

The distribution took place at the public kitchens run by the Padang army, navy, and the Muhammadiyah Association. The specific locations included a local elementary school in Agam and a military shelter in Tanah Datar. The distribution was a collaborative effort between Tzu Chi, the Indonesian military, and the Muhammadiyah Association.

When the volunteers arrived at the army headquarters shelter, they were joined by Indonesian National Armed Forces First Joint Regional Defense Command Commander Admiral Agus Hariadi, National Disaster Management Agency Head Lieutenant General Suharyanto, First Military District Command Commander Major General Mochamad Hasan, and West Sumatra Governor Mahyeldi Ansharullah.

Governor Mahyeldi encouraged the affected residents, saying, "Those with severely damaged houses will receive aid for rebuilding." He noted that the government is currently seeking land to construct 200 houses for those affected.

65-year-old Darija (in a white hat) expressed relief that his house and family survived the disaster. The small mosque he frequently visits, though heavily damaged, did not collapse. | Photo courtesy of Pipi Susanti | Tanah Datar Army Headquarters Shelter, West Sumatra Province, Indonesia | 2024/05/15

Disaster Strikes Without Warning, But Grateful for Divine Protection

Fortunately, the residents' conditions are stable, and their daily needs are being met. Darija, a 65-year-old evacuee, shared his experience with the volunteers: "This is the second time floods and cold lava flows have struck. The first incident occurred a few weeks ago when Mount Marapi erupted, sending cold lava and floodwater down the mountain. It was terrifying, and we live in constant fear every day."

He continued, "The disaster struck unexpectedly, with massive floodwaters mixed with mud rushing down the mountain. Due to the rain, many people went to bed early. When we heard about the flood, everyone scrambled to escape, unable to save any belongings."

Darija noted that the May 11 disaster was more severe than the previous one. "Several people were swept away by the fast currents. My house is nearby, but thankfully, both my home and family survived the disaster. Thanks to Allah, the small mosque I frequently visit, though heavily damaged, did not collapse."

Reported by Pipi Susanti | Indonesia |May 20, 2024