x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Quake stirs expatriate Indonesians

The country's Indonesian community is organizing a fund-raising drive to help victims of the earthquake on Sumatra island.

ABU DHABI // The country's Indonesian community is organizing a fund-raising drive to help victims of the earthquake on Sumatra island. A strong earthquake struck near the city of Padang on Wednesday, killing more than 770 people, according to media reports, and trapping thousands. Lalan Purnama, 52, a leader in the community, said at least 3,000 professionals in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Ruwais would be involved in fund-raising.

The community will also collect clothes, blankets, medicine and other relief goods, which would be sent to Indonesia, he said. Jon Spardi, 43, the head of the purchasing department at an oil and gas company in Abu Dhabi, said he had called his parents to be sure they were safe. "I grew up in Padang and attended high school there," he said. "My parents and two sisters live about 100km away from Padang, and I'm glad they were not affected by the earthquake."

But Mr Spardi is worried about two friends who both live and work in Padang. "One is an employee of a cement company, while another is working in a golf course," he said yesterday. "I have tried phoning them since last night, but the lines were not working even until today." He was able to receive some news on Facebook from a former teacher. "It's tragic," he said. "The death toll is rising and 80 per cent of the buildings are damaged. There are so many people trapped inside the buildings. I really hope to get in touch with my friends there."

Mr Spardi's former company in Jakarta has called on volunteers to help their compatriots in Padang. "But I will also be involved here in Abu Dhabi in collecting money and goods for them," he said. A Dubai resident, Ihsan Sarkawi, 46, was fearful for his family in Bukittinggi, 90km from Padang. "I received text messages from my mother-in-law and brother-in-law last night and they said they're OK," he said yesterday.

"The situation is unbelievable," he said. "Hundreds of buildings collapsed while communications and power remained cut." He is planning to organise a fund-raising drive in Dubai and the other emirates in co-operation with the Indonesian consulate and the embassy.
rruiz@thenational.ae