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  1. ITV Report

UK aid agencies launch appeal for Indonesia earthquake and tsunami survivors

UK aid agencies are launching a joint fundraising appeal to try and help the survivors of the Indonesia earthquake and tsunami.

Donations to the appeal will be doubled by the UK Government.

More than 1,500 people are thought to be dead, missing or injured after last Friday’s 7.5 magnitude tremor and wave and up to 1.5 million people may be affected.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt has pledged to match the first £2 million of public donations to The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Indonesia Tsunami Appeal.

The move will take government aid to the devastated Sulawesi region to £5 million, on top of sending a team of six aid workers and a plane full of shelters, water filters and solar lamps.

But, rescuers are still struggling to reach devastated communities.

  • ITV News Correspondent Emma Murphy reports from Patobo

DEC chief executive Saleh Saeed said: “DEC member charities and their local partners are working closely with the Indonesian authorities to get aid to those who urgently need it, as well as helping survivors to cope with the trauma of the last few days.

“As the full scale of the disaster unfolds, they are providing emergency relief and are ready to help devastated communities to rebuild their lives.

“There is an urgent need for clean drinking water, food, medical care and shelter.

“Please give generously and let’s save the survivors.”

Anyone wishing to make a donation can go online, at www.dec.org.uk, call the 24-hour hotline on 0370 60 60 900, donate over the counter at any high street bank or post office, or send a cheque.

A £5 donation can be made by texting SUPPORT to 70000.

DEC said that texts cost £5 and the whole £5 goes to the appeal.

A man surveys the wreckage in Wani village on the outskirts of Palu. Credit: AP
Plumes of volcanic ash rising from Mount Soputan. Credit: Yehezkiel Dondokambey/AP

Rescue efforts are continuing, with one French rescue worker saying on Thursday his team had detected a person believed to still be alive under the rubble of a hotel in Palu, nearly a week after the earthquake.

Philip Besson, a member of the French organization Pompiers de l'urgence, said the team "detected the presence of a victim" in the wreckage of the Mercure Hotel but wasn't able to say if the person is conscious.

Besson said the team was unable to reach the victim as they only had a hand drill. He said it will bring heavy equipment on Friday to try and rescue the person.

Mount Soputan in North Sulawesi has spewed ash nearly 20,000ft into the sky, prompting warnings over volcanic ash in the air and hampering aid efforts.

  • Video report by ITV News Senior International Correspondent John Irvine from Wani

A team of five UK humanitarian experts left London for Sulawesi earlier this week, and are now helping to coordinate the humanitarian response on the ground.

A sixth team member has joined them, and the UK will keep its support under review.

Villagers inspect the damage to their homes. Credit: AP

The UK has also offered the use of HMS Argyll, currently located in Singapore, to support the humanitarian relief effort.

The government of Indonesia has thanked the UK Government for this offer, but said it is not needed at this time.

The Department for International Development (DfID) funding is on top of existing UK-funded support through humanitarian agencies on the ground.

These include the DfID-backed UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), which has allocated 15 million US dollars to the Indonesia earthquake response.

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DfID provided 20% of all contributions to the fund in 2017.

The 15 million dollars will allow UN agencies and humanitarian organisations to rapidly scale up aid operations providing shelter, clean water and health support.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has almost 300 specialist volunteers and staff carrying out search and rescue missions and providing emergency health assistance on the ground.

The European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) has made 1.5 million euro available to support the relief effort.