THE TRIPLE NATURAL DISASTER IN INDONESIA
NB As with all rapid-response assemblies, you will need to update this assembly, which was written on
Friday, 29 October.
Suitable for Key Stage 2
To inform children about the triple natural disaster in Indonesia.
Preparation and materials
- During half term, the islands of Indonesia experienced a terrible trio of natural disasters. On Monday 25 October, an earthquake struck the remote Mentawai islands off the western coast of Sumatra in Indonesia. The quake took place off the coast, and originally the tsunami warning gave the all clear. However, it later became clear that the tsunami warning detectors weren’t operating properly, and the evidence suggested that they had been vandalized.
- A few moments later, a tsunami hit the remote islands, and the death toll has been rising ever since. Villages were washed away as a three-metre-high wave came ashore. Around four hundred people died, and three hundred are still missing.
You may have seen reports from tourists caught up in the wave and its aftermath. Bad weather has made the rescue hard, and the few roads that were there have been badly damaged.
- Then the next day, Mount Merapi, a volcano in central Java, erupted and showered burning ash down onto the surrounding countryside. At least 32 people died as the ash and gas shot into the air and rained down on them. Much of this was washed away the next day, but then the volcano erupted again. The local ‘spiritual guardian’ of the earthquake, Maridjan, was buried on Thursday, having died in the eruption. The pictures look like another planet, as people move through the area with face masks and protection to guard against the dust.
- But the people of this area, while grief stricken and coping with appalling loss, take things more in their stride than we might do. Because disasters happen far more often in this area of Asia than they do in Europe, the people know how to take care, and when they are told to shelter, they do as well as they can.
- There was a warning about the volcano, and most people took note and went to safe places. The tragedy of the tsunami was first that the earthquake was so near to the land that there was no time to get away from the shoreline, and second that probably because of vandalism the detectors, which resemble buoys, didn’t work.
Time for reflection
Natural disasters have taken place throughout the history of the world. Listen to this reading from the Bible’s Old Testament:
In my distress I called upon the Lord;
to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.
Then the earth reeled and rocked;
the foundations also of the mountains trembled
and quaked, because he was angry.
Smoke went up from his nostrils,
and devouring fire from his mouth;
glowing coals flamed forth from him.
He bowed the heavens, and came down;
thick darkness was under his feet.
He rode on a cherub, and flew;
he came swiftly upon the wings of the wind.
He made darkness his covering around him,
his canopy thick clouds dark with water.
Out of the brightness before him
there broke through his clouds
hailstones and coals of fire.
The Lord also thundered in the heavens,
and the Most High uttered his voice.
And he sent out his arrows, and scattered them;
he flashed forth lightnings, and routed them.
Then the channels of the sea were seen,
and the foundations of the world were laid bare
at your rebuke, O Lord,
at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.
What do you think the writer was describing here? How do you think the writer might be feeling? It sounds like an earthquake and a volcano.
You may know people who live in the affected areas, or you may have seen news footage of people suffering. Let’s be quiet now, and think about those people, especially the children, and ask God to help the aid workers to get to all those in need as quickly as possible.
Light a candle and share a moment of silence.
(You might like to fundraise for Save the Children, or another charity who will be working in the crisis area.)
‘When I needed a neighbour’ (Come and Praise, 65)