(Photo: AP Images / Gembong Nusantara)
Two catastrophes that struck Indonesia within a span of 24 hours have left more than 400 people dead and hundreds more missing, according to the latest estimate.
On Monday, a 7.7-magnitude earthquake off the coast of west Sumatra triggered a towering tsunami, flattening villages and displacing thousands. A day later, the central Java volcano erupted, killing at least 32 people.
While aid trickles in to the ravaged Southeast Asian country, Christian humanitarian group World Vision already has staff on the ground trying to assess the scope of the damage.
Jimmy Nadapdap, World Vision's emergency response director in Indonesia, noted how the country is prone to major disasters.
"Indonesia's location in the so-called 'Ring of Fire' means we're a prime target for natural disasters like these, but this is like déjà vu for our team," he said in a statement. "Nearly one year ago, we were responding to earthquakes in both West Java and West Sumatra. However, those disasters were one month apart. I can't remember the last time our staff was dealing with two disasters in less than twenty-four hours."
World Vision has deployed rapid response teams to Mentawai Islands and Java to guage the needs of affected families.
The teams, however, are being cautious as nature continues to strike. High tides and strong waves have made it difficult to reach victims and Indonesia's Mount Merapi volcano erupted again Thursday.
Hartje Robert Winerungan, a spokesman for the National Disaster Management Agency, told BBC News, "Some villages in the remote island can't be reached so far. We're working on it."
In 2004, about 150,000 people died in Indonesia after a 9.1-magnitude earthquake triggered a giant tsunami. In total, more than 225,000 people in 14 countries were killed.