A massive earthquake hit the Central Sulawesi province of Indonesia on September 28, 2018. The magnitude 7.5 temblor generated a massive tsunami and around 170 aftershocks. The death toll rose to almost 2000 with nearly 5000 more people feared missing.
At the behest of the Prime Minister, India promptly launched 'Operation Samudra Maitri' to provide humanitarian assistance to the earthquake victims. The Indian relief efforts commenced on October 3, 2018 when three Indian Naval ships (INS Tir, INS Sujatha & INS Shardul) were mobilised to the affected area with relief material. At the same time, two IAF aircraft (C17 & C130J) were tasked to carry a relief column of the elite 50 (Independent) Parachute Brigade & relief material in the affected area.
The relief column of 50 (Independent) Parachute Brigade was mobilised on April 1, 2018 and after completion of all formalities, the column reached the ravaged city of Palu with strength of 6 Officers, 4 JCOs and 27 Other Ranks on October 5, 2018. The team immediately set about in helping the locals by providing facilities of medical OPD and Minor OT along with the local Indonesian field hospital. X-Ray and mobile laboratory facilities were further provided on receipt of equipment.
Over a period of two weeks, the Indian medical team attended to almost 1300 OPD patients and carried out almost 150 minor surgeries. The Indian team also provided outreach medical services to the local population by visiting various relief camps established in the surrounding areas and organising public health activities to obviate outbreak of any impending epidemics. Assistance was provided to the local authorities in disposal of waste by preparing organic/ inorganic waste pits & public group latrines. A communication detachment was also established in conjunction with Indonesian Army to provide communication support to medical outreach teams.
The efforts of the Indian relief column of 50 (Independent) Parachute Brigade was appreciated by all for their high standards of professionalism. The compassion & professionalism displayed by the team has earned the country immeasurable goodwill and good wishes from the locals in Indonesia. With this operation, India has established its credibility as an effective first responder in the region.