You are here: Indonesia Earthquakes and Tsunamis

How are we helping?

Right now, a ShelterBox response team is on the ground in Indonesia working to help survivors of the earthquake and tsunami. 

The challenges are huge. The whole island of Sulawesi is devastated, roads are blocked, and communications are down. But our highly-trained response team are determined and committed to finding a way to help families who've lost everything in the wake of this devastating disaster.

We are working with the Indonesian Government and Rotary, who are helping us in our mission to help the vulnerable families who will not receive help otherwise. 

We have essential items ready to go, like tents, ShelterKits made up of tarpaulins and tool kits, as well as water filters and blankets.

We must do all we can to give families living out in the open a way to create a space to sleep and to eat, to feel safe and protected, and to start rebuilding their lives.

Will you help?

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Video update

Watch this video update from Olivia about the situation in Indonesia and how you can help.

Hear from Alf, Head of Operations, about what caused the recent earthquake in Indonesia, why it triggered a tsunami and how it has devasted the community in Palu.

Keep up to date with our teams on the ground and how we are responding by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Where are Sulawesi and Lombok?

Indonesia map

Sulawesi is one of the main islands in Indonesia. It sits between Borneo and the Maluku islands. It’s known for its coral reefs and beautiful dive sites.

The island of Lombok, where we’re responding to a series of earthquakes that hit in August, is situated to the east of Bali on the other side of the Lombok Strait. The capital, and largest city on the island, is Mataram. 

Both Sulawesi and are Lombok are popular tourist destinations. But whilst tourists are able to evacuate, thousands of local families have nothing left and are in urgent need of shelter.

Emergency Aid items needed

Water filter

Water purification kits

can provide safe drinking water for families to drink, one less thing to worry about after the trauma of losing their homes

ShelterKit consisting of ropes, tarpaulins, hammer and nails


can give families the essentials they need to start rebuilding homes, ranging from tough tarpaulin to versatile tools

ShelterBox white tent


can provide families with a safe place to sleep until they can return to their land and start rebuilding their homes

Tsunamis 101


A tsunami is a series of large often catastrophic ocean waves. Tsunamis should not be confused with Tidal Waves, these are waves generated on the surface of the ocean by wind, tidal pull from the moon and the position of the earth.


The large waves that form a tsunami happen when there is an earthquake under the ocean. Other things can make tsunamis too, such as volcanic eruptions, sub-marine rockslides or a large impact in the water from an asteroid or meteor.

Water will move in all directions from the location of the disturbance, starting small and gradually getting larger and larger.


When waves caused by the underwater disturbance reach land, they will be far faster and more powerful than regular ones. They also grow in size as they approach the shallow waters near land.

These large, powerful waves can destroy buildings, roads, railways, and pretty much anything else in their path. Tsunamis can destroy whole communities leaving many people homeless and destroying their livelihoods.

Clean drinking water will be contaminated and individuals affected often lose their possessions.



An earthquake happens when pieces of the earth's surface rub together, causing the ground to shake. 



Although the ground we walk on may seem solid, it is actually made of huge pieces of flat rock which together, create a kind of patchwork.  

These flat pieces of rock are called plates and are constantly moving, although this usually happens so slowly we don’t even notice.  

Sometimes these plates get stuck and pressure builds up until one of the plates is forced to give way – this can cause the ground across a wide area to vibrate violently. 



The size of an earthquake is usually measured by a system called the ‘Richter Scale’. Earthquakes that measure below 4 on this scale are unlikely to cause any damage and those below 2 will usually not even be felt.  

However, earthquakes above 5 on the Richter Scale will cause damage and those above 7 are considered major earthquakes. These larger earthquakes can result in buildings being destroyed or so badly damaged they are too dangerous to live in. 



Aftershocks are earthquakes that follow the largest shock of an earthquake sequence.  

They are smaller than the initial, main earthquakes and within 1-2 rupture lengths distance from the mainshock.  

Aftershocks can continue over a period of weeks, months, or even years. In general, the larger the mainshock, the larger and more numerous the aftershocks, and the longer they will continue.  



Liquefaction is a phenomenon which causes sand and soil to act like a liquid when shaken by an earthquake. It tends to happen in places with loose saturated soil, like Palu in Indonesia.

The earthquake reduces the strength of the soil and it starts to flow like a liquid, lifting and carrying homes and buildings along with it. The effects can be devastating.


We support the most remote communities across the world that have been affected by disaster.

We go the extra mile to find the most vulnerable families whose lives have been devastated by disaster. Our work isn't done until no family is left without shelter.