AN international conservation group says thousands of animals are in urgent need of help in the Indonesian city struck by an earthquake and tsunami last Friday.
World Animal Protection said the animals included cattle, pigs, dogs and cat which were struggling to survive after the disasters struck Palu city, Sulawesi last week with many residents in the area dependent on animals for their livelihoods.
Naritsorn Pholperm, Disaster Response Manager at World Animal Protection said an immediate assessment of the situation was needed.
“Seeing the impact of the tsunami here is devastating. Right now, our work is to help those animals in dire need; injured, without food or water and at high risk of disease. Our aim is to help those who are in shelters first and, once safe to do so, race to those who have been left behind,” he said, as quoted by the Scoop.
“Local communities who survived this catastrophe will only suffer more, if they have no animals or livestock to help them long after the aid has gone, for their livelihoods, transport and food.”
While disaster response rightly prioritizes people’s immediate needs, the long-term recovery from disasters is inextricably linked with the well-being of their animals, he said.
“Communities in this area heavily rely on agriculture to make ends meet and in this critical stage, saving animals affected by the tsunami will provide stability for their future.”
He said the organisation heading Palu City with a team of veterinarians to immediately assist and treat the animals that may either be wounded or impacted with diseases like diarrhoea and pneumonia.
The small city of 370,000 people has been the focus of the aid effort launched after last Friday’s 7.5 magnitude earthquake and tsunami.
Electricity was restored and some shops reopened in Palu on Thursday, but the fate of many thousands of people in outlying districts was unknown nearly a week after the disaster struck, according to Reuters.
International help in searching for survivors has gathered pace, but communities in more remote areas have been cut off by broken roads, landslides and crippled communications, leaving people increasingly desperate for basic needs as aid has only just begun to trickle through.
By Thursday, the official death toll stood at 1,424, but it will certainly rise as bodies were still being recovered in Palu, where most of the dead have been counted. Figures for more remote areas were only trickling in, if at all.