Responding to Deadly Earthquakes & Tsunami in Indonesia

ShelterBox Response Team members are on the ground in Indonesia after a 7.5 magnitude earthquake and tsunami with 20 foot waves devastated the island of Sulawesi.

More than 2,100 people have died and at least 200,000 people still cannot live in their homes because they are destroyed, damaged, or inaccessible. Nearly 70,000 homes have been damaged, as well as schools, offices, and shops. Many families in Sulawesi are in desperate need of emergency shelter and other essential items.

As part of the government-led response, we’re working with local Rotary partners and disaster relief teams from the Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management.

We are focusing on families living in remote villages in mountainous areas outside the main city of Palu on Sulawesi. These families are vulnerable because they are hard to reach and have been receiving less attention and support.

We are providing tents, water filters, carriers, and mosquito nets and are helping communities with training to set up and use the items effectively. So far, 569 families have received aid. Deliveries have been made by helicopter because other routes are blocked due to mudslides and other damage.

As the rains intensify, we are providing additional tarps to improve the durability of the tents. These have been procured locally with the help of Rotary will be distributed soon.

This earthquake is the latest in a series of earthquakes to hit Indonesia in 2018. Earlier this year, we responded on the island of Lombok, helping families recover from the 6.9 magnitude earthquake which hit in August and left 20,000 people homeless.

ShelterBox USA has a designated fund for the response to the earthquakes & tsunami in Indonesia. If we receive more funds than needed for our response, the excess will be used to support our response to other disasters in Southeast Asia.




A 6.9 magnitude earthquake hit the island of Lombok on August 5, a significant quake in a series to hit the area.

The response in Lombok was led by the Indonesian Government. We worked with local Rotary contacts to deliver aid to 584 affected families across North and West Lombok.

In addition to providing tents, tarpaulins, ropes, kitchen sets, blankets, ground sheets, mosquito nets, and solar lights, we also provided tents to maternity and postnatal clinics.

The single Rotary Club on Lombok worked tirelessly to make our response possible.  They provided the contacts, translation, and transportation needed for our Response Teams.



When the 6.9 magnitude earthquake hit Lombok, Indonesia in August, Ahmed (far left) and his four children were left without a home. His wife died in the quake and his laundry business was destroyed.

Because of support from people like you, ShelterBox and Rotary International provided his family with a large tent, blankets, mosquito nets, and other aid.

Ahmed said the items are invaluable to his family and they can now meet their basic needs as they work toward rebuilding their lives.



An earthquake happens when pieces of the earth’s surface rub together, causing the ground to shake.


Although the ground we walk on may seem solid, it is actually made of huge pieces of flat rock which together, create a kind of patchwork.

These flat pieces of rock are called plates and are constantly moving, although this usually happens so slowly we don’t even notice.

Sometimes these plates get stuck and pressure builds up until one of the plates is forced to give way – this can cause the ground across a wide area to vibrate violently.


The size of an earthquake is usually measured by a system called the ‘Richter Scale’. Earthquakes that measure below 4 on this scale are unlikely to cause any damage and those below 2 will usually not even be felt.

However, earthquakes above 5 on the Richter Scale will cause damage and those above 7 are considered major earthquakes. These larger earthquakes can result in buildings being destroyed or so badly damaged they are too dangerous to live in.


Aftershocks are earthquakes that follow the largest shock of an earthquake sequence.

They are smaller than the initial, main earthquakes and within 1-2 rupture lengths distance from the mainshock.

Aftershocks can continue over a period of weeks, months, or even years. In general, the larger the mainshock, the larger and more numerous the aftershocks, and the longer they will continue.