Humanitarian Health Action

28 March earthquake: preliminary situation report

29 March 2005

An Acehnese man sits on a street in Banda Aceh after evacuating his home
An Acehnese man sits on a street in Banda Aceh after evacuating his home

An earthquake measuring 8.7 on the Richter scale was recorded about 150 kilometres off the west coast of Sumatra on Monday evening at 11:09 AM local time. Although there was no ensuing tsunami the quake did cause destruction on two islands near its epicentre. The island of Nias was most affected where an unknown number of people have been reported killed and injured and where physical destruction in the main town called Gunungsitoli was also reported. The city's port is also reported damaged (extent unknown). Less damage was reported on the second island of Simeulue.

WHO is part of a wider interagency assessment team which is currently surveying and assessing the damage in the affected area. A preliminary report is expected by the end of the day.

Initial reports indicate that medical assistance is focusing on triage, local emergency treatment and evacuation of more severe cases.

WHO is making ready a wider team consisting of health professionals, a water and sanitation expert and a logistician to be deployed tomorrow.

WHO has 33 new emergency health kits and 28 surgical kits available in Banda Aceh. 1 kit is enough to cover the needs of 10,000 people for three months. An equal number of kits is available in the town of Medan on the island of Sumatra.

An emergency operations room in the South East Asian Regional Office and the Strategic Health Operations Centre in Geneva have been established to help with the management of the emergency.