MAF's emergency response to Sumatra earthquake

Within 24 hours of the massive earthquake that shook Sumatra, Indonesia, on 30 September, Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) was flying in urgent medical, water and food supplies and assisting survey efforts to assess the damage. 

MAF’s Sumatra-based Cessna Caravan also carried a relief team from Operation Blessing International (OBI) to the scene of devastation. 

The first couple of days after the Sumatra earthquake were critical. But all roads into Padang, the city close to the epicentre of the earthquake, were cut off. Bridges were down. The airport wasn’t fully open. Fires were raging and there was widespread flooding caused by broken gas and water lines. Rescue efforts were also hampered by the loss of power and telecommunication lines, which threw Padang into darkness.

A number of aid and medical agencies therefore called MAF. Our flights offered the best way to get teams and emergency supplies there – and fast.

Normally based in Medan in the north, MAF was quick to react to the critical need, temporarily positioning themselves in Pekan Baru, which is closer to Padang and with good external connections, including Jakarta. MAF provided critical flights to Padang. Additional staff were ready to come from other contries if needed. 

Our flights helped OBI to set up a base camp of relief in the middle of Padang. The Indonesian government has asked OBI to focus relief efforts on 18 villages surrounding hard-hit Padang who had not yet been helped.

Once the large aircraft were able to come in to Padang airport, MAF’s emergency services were no longer needed. If there were airstrips in the affected villages, MAF would still be there responding to the disaster.

The 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck at 5:16pm local time off the west coast of Sumatra, 29 miles north-west of Padang. Dozens of aftershocks followed, two of a 6.0 magnitude. 

The death toll is predicted to be in the thousands.

MAF is uniquely placed in Sumatra and across the developing world to help enable the provision of urgently-needed shelter, food, water and medical care when natural disasters arise. 

MAF in Sumatra

MAF began flying in Sumatra in response to the 2004 tsunami that devastated the Aceh area of northern Sumatra. MAF was one of the first to respond to the disaster, initially sending aircraft and personnel from their programme in Kalimantan. MAF also provided communications services to support the relief efforts.

MAF have served in Indonesia since 1954. Government officials have invited MAF to extend its operations indefinitely in the province of Aceh, Sumatra.

Our team comprises three pilots and ten national staff. The programme operates a Cessna 206 and a Cessna Caravan from their base in Medan.

Sumatra map (updated)Unloading emergency supplies from the Cessna Caravan aircraft in SumatraA girl in devastated Sumatra

Mission Aviation Fellowship

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