MAF responds to mudslide in Kutacane, Aceh

Published: 18 Apr 2017

A massive mudslide occurred on at 6am on Wednesday 12 April in the district of Kutacane on the island of Sumatra – a 1.5-hour flight from Banda Aceh, where an MAF humanitarian base is located.

Aceh Programme Manager Corey Kirkwood reports, ‘Initial estimates were that roughly 400-500 homes were either destroyed totally or sustained significant damage. As of Friday afternoon, that count had risen to 657 homes. Most of the homes that were damaged significantly are made of wood. There are roughly 2,700 people currently homeless and finding refuge wherever they can... Four churches were destroyed and one mosque. Up to this point, three people have been found dead.

‘There are significant challenges being faced in clean up. There are portions of town where the elevation has literally changed. Some villages are now close to 10 feet higher than they were. Some homes are buried up to the roof. Where does one start when everything in the village is buried to that extent? That is not everywhere but it is in a few locations. Other villages are primarily flooded with debris, which is less complex. Another challenge is that new sources of water have popped up all over. Because the mountain naturally has many streams of water flowing, those have since been moved and now water is flowing in the middle of town.’

‘There are portions of town where the elevation has literally changed. Some villages are now close to 10 feet higher than they were. Some homes are buried up to the roof’Aceh Program Manager Corey Kirkwood

MAF Aceh conducted a flight for a group from Banda Aceh that is aiming to provide temporary shelters as well as a kitchen in order to feed people who have evacuated their homes. This NGO is doing assessments to determine how they can recruit workers to help the people of Kutacane. Our Aceh team will be communicating regularly with them to see how MAF can be of assistance, and we will subsidise flights for groups providing aid following the mudslide.

Corey said, ‘The truth is, there needs to be a lot of people there with shovels and earthmovers right now. The road from Medan to Kutacane is completely covered in mud and is not usable. What would normally be a six-hour drive has now become about 25 hours as they are forced to use another route. We may be able to provide assistance in bringing more teams from Medan to Kutacane in the near future. I suspect that additional teams will be needed to provide temporary housing and kitchens to assist the needs of those seeking refuge.’

At this time MAF does not expect to send additional staff or aircraft to Aceh, though the situation is being monitored. The Aceh team operates one Cessna 208 Caravan.