SOURCE: Save the Children

October 01, 2009 11:37 ET

With the Safety and Well-Being of Children at Risk, Save the Children Launches Rapid Response to the Earthquake Disaster in Indonesia

JAKARTA, INDONESIA, and WESTPORT, CT--(Marketwire - October 1, 2009) - Save the Children is rapidly moving to assess the needs of children and assist them through the current crisis in Padang, Sumatra, as aftershocks continue, further imperiling their lives and well-being.

A 6.8 magnitude quake hit western Sumatra on Thursday morning, Sumatra time, just hours after a 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Padang, killing more than 500 people, collapsing homes and buildings, and affecting more than 1 million children and families. At least half of those affected are children.

"The second major earthquake struck when children were in school, and we fear that many are injured or separated from their families," said Mark Fritzler, Save the Children's country director in Indonesia. "Save the Children will work to protect vulnerable and separated children as well as provide humanitarian assistance to help families through the immediate and critical hours of this crisis."

According to early reports, the quake destroyed homes and buildings, cut lines of communications electricity, and damaged bridges in and around Padang, home to 900,000 people.

Save the Children is sending 3,364 household kits, 10,076 hygiene kits, and 3,300 family tarps (including plastic mats) and 608 shelter kits to the affected area to help families who are sleeping in the open and have lost their homes.

"The population of Padang has been dramatically affected with what we fear will be a large-scale displacement of people. Every day a family is without shelter threatens the health and well-being of children, especially the youngest and smallest," said Ned Olney, Save the Children's vice president for global humanitarian relief. "We are moving rapidly to ensure than infants and children -- as well as their parents -- get the help they need as quickly as possible."

Save the Children is currently providing relief to survivors of a magnitude-7 earthquake that struck Western Java, Indonesia, last month. The agency's education, health and livelihoods programs for children and families living in areas affected by the 2004 tsunami continue.

Save the Children has been working in Indonesia for more than three decades.

Save the Children is the leading independent organization that creates lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world. Save the Children USA is a member of the International Save the Children Alliance, a global network of 29 independent Save the Children organizations working to ensure the well-being and protection of children in more than 120 countries. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.