Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is today sending an emergency team of six people to Indonesia following yesterday’s powerful earthquake that authorities say has killed more than 750 people and left thousands trapped under rubble. The magnitude 7.6 quake struck off the western coast of Sumatra Island. The worst affected areas are said to be the cities of Padang and Pariaman. Indonesian authorities have sent significant medical assistance and food to the area. MSF has been in contact with authorities and former Indonesian staff to get a clearer picture of the needs and to try to quickly organize a first assessment of affected areas.
The MSF team leaving today includes a coordinator, a nurse and a psychologist, who will take with them first aid equipment. They will travel with three kidney specialists (nephrologists) from the Renal Disaster Relief Task Force, a network of experts.who offer a highly specific and potentially life-saving medical assistance after disasters. The nephrologists will carry out dialysis in order to treat people suffering from something called crush syndrome, a condition in which muscle tissue damaged by severe internal injury may release massive quantities of toxins into the bloodstream and lead to kidney failure. Left untreated, crush syndrome can be fatal.
Another team of three specialists in disasters are flying today to Indonesia from the MSF base in Panama, Central America. About 15 additional MSF workers – including a surgical team – are ready to leave Brussels, Paris, Barcelona, and Athens in the next two days. Relief material and medical equipment are being prepared to be flown to Indonesia from Belgium and from France.