Washington (BWA)-- Baptists are marshalling resources to respond to major natural disasters in three Asian countries - the Philippines, Myanmar, and Indonesia.
Typhoon Megi, one of the most powerful typhoons on record with sustained winds of up to 300 kilometers or 190 miles per hour, made landfall in northern Philippines on October 18, killing at least 28 people and destroying approximately 200,000 houses. "Our Baptist brethren are working hard to cope with the effects of the typhoon," reported the Luzon Convention of Southern Baptist Churches (LCSBC).
The LCSBC "sent emergency relief packages to the affected families, mostly marginal families," the BWA was informed. Initial estimates indicate that the affected farmers lost 100 percent of their crops. "The concern is how these small farmers who lost their crops would recover their livelihood. They borrowed money to plant the year's crops."
Cyclone Giri made landfall on the western coast of Myanmar (Burma) on October 22 with winds of up to 250 kilometers or 155 miles per hour. The cyclone damaged or destroyed houses, bridges, roads and communications infrastructure, particularly in coastal towns. More than 150 persons are known to have been killed and more than 70,000 left homeless.
The Myanmar Baptist Convention (MBC), the largest Christian body in the Southeast Asian country, reported that approximately 100 villages on Myanmar's Ramree Island as well as the island's major town of Kyaukpyu suffered severe damage, with waves reaching more than three and a half meters or 12 feet high.
The MBC listed urgent needs as food, water, shelter, and medicine. There are fears that there will be a diarrhea outbreak in the affected areas.
On October 25 an earthquake measuring 7.7 off the southwestern coast of West Sumatra in Indonesia triggered a tsunami that was as much as six meters or 20 feet high, causing widespread destruction that displaced more than 20,000 people and affected about 4,000 households. More than 430 persons died and more than 100 others were missing.
Thirty people died in the village of Monai, which was destroyed by the tsunami. A school built in the village by Baptist World Aid (BWAid) and other partners, including Rebana, following the 2004 tsunami, was also destroyed. Two relief workers from Rebana, which is affiliated with the Union of Indonesian Baptist Churches, were on the scene when a CNN news team visited the destroyed village, (see CNN report at http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/10/29/indonesia.tsunami.aftermath/index.html?hpt=Mid).
The needs in Indonesia include medical assistance, temporary shelter, food, water, clothing, mosquito nets, and trauma counseling.
Baptists are also monitoring the situation with Mount Merapi in Central Java in Indonesia, which has had a number of eruptions over two weeks into early November. As of November 5, at least 122 deaths had occurred.
BWAid, the relief and development arm of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), is coordinating the Baptist response to the three Asian crises, along with the Asia Pacific Baptist Federation (APBF), one of six regional fellowships of the BWA. "Frantic assessment is going on," reported Kabi Gangmei, who is responsible for disaster response for the APBF.
BWAid has committed an initial sum of US$26,000 to Indonesia while it awaits proposals from the Philippines and Myanmar. The APBF sent an initial sum of US$6,000 for Myanmar relief.
The BWA, founded in 1905, is a fellowship of 219 Baptist conventions and unions in 120 countries.