Main Navigation

Red Cross surgical team begins operating in Yogyakarta

Wednesday June 7, 2006

An Australian Red Cross surgical team in Yogyakarta will today begin to operate on hundreds of people injured in the earthquake that devastated the island of Java just over a week ago.

According to Australian Red Cross health coordinator, Libby Bowell, the four person team has been on the ground for the last few days, providing vital emergency medical assistance, as well as assessing the needs of people who suffered more serious injuries.

'The UN has reported that about 50,000 people were injured in the earthquake. Many suffered quite serious fractures to their limbs and faces - injuries consistent with being crushed or struck by falling debris.

'The Red Cross surgical team will spend the next few days treating hundreds of these cases,' she said.

Two Australian surgeons - Dr Tim Keenan (WA) and Dr Valerie Malka (NSW) - and two Red Cross field nurses - Marg Brewster (NSW) and Leanne McKenry (Vic) - will initially be operating out of Panti Ralhi hospital in Yogyakarta, helping local staff work through the huge caseload of people waiting for surgery.

In the coming days they will move to Sajeto hospital - the city's major referral hospital, where they will begin to treat people brought in from outlying regions.

'A Mobile Red Cross field hospital has been operating in the region for the past week, enabling us to provide important initial medical assistance to thousands of quake survivors,' said Ms Bowell.

'Red Cross medical teams have also been providing this important support. However our focus is now turning towards providing more in-depth treatment for some of the more serious cases, as well as helping re-establish local health infrastructure that was either damaged or destroyed.'

The team will be supported by supplies given to them by AusAID - the Australian Government's overseas aid program.

So far Red Cross has treated almost 5,000 patients and distributed relief items, including tents, tarpaulins, cooked food and drinking water, to over 10,000 families. According to the latest official estimates, as many as 6,200 people were killed and 50,000 injured by the 6.3 magnitude quake, which hit Java on 27 May. Bantul district, south of the capital Yogyakarta was hardest hit with nearly 60 per cent of reported casualties and thousands of homes and other buildings.

To donate to the Indonesian Disaster Appeal 2006:

  • Visit to make a secure online donation or call 1800 811 700 toll free
  • Send a cheque to GPO Box 2957 Melbourne VIC 8060 marked Indonesian Disaster Appeal 2006

Donations to the Indonesian Disaster Appeal 2006 will support communities affected by disasters in Indonesia, including the recent Java Earthquake. Donations will be used for the following activities:

  • To provide support to the Indonesian Red Cross directly or through the International Red Cross Emergency Appeal in responding to disasters in Indonesia
  • To fund the deployment of specialist aid workers to assist in the International Red Cross response
  • To support future Australian Red Cross assistance programs in Indonesia
  • To support the ongoing development of the Indonesian Red Cross

NOTE: Australian Red Cross will not deduct more than 10% of any donation for an international appeal to cover appeal costs. Should the funds raised exceed the amount required to meet the immediate and longer-term needs of the people in the affected areas, Australian Red Cross will use any excess funds to help people affected by emergencies within the same region of the world.