Some 80 children are feared dead after the church where they were attending a Bible camp collapsed during the brutal earthquake that rocked Indonesia last week.
So far, the bodies of around 35 of the kids have been discovered, but rescue efforts are hampered by the staggering ground shifts that occurred during the earthquake itself and in the time since it hit. According to Reuters, the Jonooge Church Training Centre is now about 2 kilometers (around 1.25 miles) away from where it stood last Friday, before the disaster.
The father of one of the missing children from the “Warrior of God” Bible camp lamented the fact that five days elapsed before an excavator was sent to the scene.
“We only hope, as a community, that the victims are found,” he added.
Martin Kebo said he’d spent the past week searching frantically for his son, Tegar, picking through entangled piles of rubble and twisted metal on his own, non-stop, for 12 hours a day.
But despite the utterly tragic circumstances that have beset this broken man and his family, he continues on in the hope of Christ.
“My neighbors said: ‘Your son hasn’t returned’ and I said: ‘Yes, what can I do? God loves him more,” Kebo declared.
Reuters reported that the youths were around the age of 17, and were from a local high school. One reporter discovered a journal among the ruins, inscribed with the name “Julitha” containing one simple entry, which read, “God has created this earth in such perfection and everything has been determined. Everything has its place, be it in the sea, on land or on air.”
Rev. Krise Gosal told Tearfund of the moment a church in Jono’oge was decimated when the earth began to flow like liquid, smothering the entire building. According to the University of Washington, this “liquefaction” phenomenon occurs when “the strength and stiffness of a soil is reduced by earthquake shaking or other rapid loading,” causing it to appear and behave like a liquid. As you can imagine, the results are lethal.
“I visited the Sigi region and it was horribly smashed up. Roads destroyed, bridges broken, 8 electric poles have all come down,” Gosal said. “I watched the church building in Jono’oge move away and disappear into the mud. The retreat centre was also swallowed in the mud and there were about 140 young people inside it at the time. They’d been at Bible camp. Only 40 people survived. Other church leaders told me how in Toboli, houses and a maternity clinic were literally sucked into the ground.”
According to CBS News, more than 70,000 people have been left homeless as a result of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami. The death toll currently stands at over 1,400.
Please continue to pray for the families of the victims during this incredibly difficult time.