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Sulawesi Tsunami & Earthquake Response

by Sam Clark

We’ve all seen the terrible pictures and news from Palu and beyond in Sulawesi. Our thoughts are with the residents of the affected areas as they struggle to cope with the loss of loved ones and face the re-building necessary.

Sulawesi is a big land mass and different regions are relatively inaccessible from each other. While we do organise holidays to Sulawesi, the area affected is a long way from any covered by our tours. We didn’t, therefore, have any clients affected nor any suppliers or friends either.

Having been in Sri Lanka at the time of the Asian tsunami of 2004, I know first-hand the devastation a tsunami can wreak. I remember thinking that areas I knew well looked like nuclear war zones and I wondered if things would ever be normal again.

Over time, with hard work, resilience and support, things do return to normal. However, it does take time and money. As mentioned, we don’t have any personal contacts in the affected area (see our Lombok earthquake appeal) so we cannot recommend an on the ground operation for donations. If our clients are wanting to donate, I’d suggest that Save the Children would be a good starting point – having worked with them in the aftermath of the Asian Tsunami I can attest to the effectiveness of their ground operation (albeit 14 years ago).

At risk of sounding self-serving, I will say that there is absolutely no reason at all to change or alter any travel plans you might have had to Sulawesi. Not only are the areas you would be likely to visit completely unaffected, but Sulawesi gets precious few tourists at the best of times and they could certainly do without travellers cancelling their plans to visit.

UPDATE: Since the earthquake and Tsunami, Sulawesi has also seen the eruption of Mount Soputan. No one has yet been reported injured by the earthquake but those in the area have been put on standby alert and told to have masks to had in the event of ashfall. One of the numerous volcanoes on Sulawesi typically erupts each year.

The volcano eruption is hundreds of miles from where the tsunami hit. While none of our clients are currently in this region, it is a more visited part of the island so visitors might have seen the eruption take place.

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