The Malaysian prime minister on Thursday called on the neighboring countries to offer disaster-stricken Indonesia a helping hand.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries should pioneer the aid to Indonesia — which was hit by a deadly earthquake and tsunami in Sulawesi Island, Malaysia’s state news agency Bernama reported Mahathir Mohamad as saying.
The premier addressed the 6th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Disaster Management in Malaysia’s Putrajaya city.
He said that Palu, Donggala and Sigi areas in the island suffered massive destruction, and over a thousand people died, while more than 60,000 homes were damaged and 60,000 people were displaced.
“While such a tragedy is heart-wrenching, as neighbors, we do not want to be sitting and watching from the sidelines.
“But to attempt to help without proper coordination and strategic planning will result in causing a chaotic situation more chaotic. Instead of helping, we may end up troubling the other rescuers,” Mahathir said, as quoted by Bernama.
“It is obvious that under such circumstances, ACDM [ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management] has a major role to play,” he added.
Mahathir went on to say: “According to the global data for the period of 2000 to 2017, the Asia Pacific Region constituted 45 percent of global disasters, 60 percent of global disaster mortalities and 85 percent of global disaster-affected people.”
“Together, I am sure we can help our neighbor to ease her burden,” he asserted.
The death toll from the 7.4-magnitude earthquake and tsunami has risen to 1,424, according to the country’s Disaster Management Agency (BNPB).
The disaster in Central Sulawesi could be Indonesia’s second-largest tragedy after the 2004 Aceh tsunami that killed more than 170,000 people.