By: Ahmad Husein, IFRC Indonesia
Following the disappearance of Air Asia’s flight QZ8501, the Indonesian Red Cross, locally known as Palang Merah Indonesia (PMI), opened its health and psychosocial services post at the Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, East Java. The Airbus A320-200, carrying 155 passengers and 7 crewmembers from Surabaya to Singapore, lost contact with air traffic control at 6.17am local time around Tanjung Pandan, an area between Borneo and Java Island. Debris from the plane and several bodies believed to be the passengers were found in the Pangkalan Bun area, Central Kalimantan, after more than 48 hours of intensive search efforts.
“We, in collaboration with the Surabaya Municipality, initiated the operation of this health and psychosocial service post on Monday for the family members who stayed at the airport waiting to hear news of their loved ones,” says Mirta Krisna, a PMI coordinator stationed at the post. While the authority focused on search and recovery operations, PMI sees the urgency of providing appropriate health services for the passengers’ family members. To smooth the operation, PMI deployed five skilled volunteers to work in three different shifts each day for 24 hours. They are equipped with two ambulances that are on standby at the airport.
In Sumatra, PMI’s Bangka Belitung chapter is providing an ambulance at the H.A.S Hanandjoeddin airport, the nearest location to where the plane reportedly crashed in East Belitung, Sumatera. Meanwhile, the PMI branch in Kotawaringin Barat, Central Kalimantan, has mobilized 25 volunteers to the search area to help local authorities. The Central Kalimantan Chapter provided two ambulance units, while the South Kalimantan Chapter contributed 80 body bags and one ambulance to help with the recovery efforts.