Context: Earthquake
Start date: 28/09/2018
End date: Ongoing
Areas of intervention: Sulawesi Island

  • Support to coordination
  • Humanitarian calling operations

1 coordination centre connected

Sulawesi earthquake

Publication date: Sep 28, 2018 05:52 PM
Last modication date: Oct 18, 2018 12:46 PM
2018 - Ongoing
Following an earthquake of magnitude 7.5 and only 10 km deep, a tsunami lifted 30 minutes later and hit the Sulawesi Island. TSF immediately deploys its télécoms technicians on site.


On September 28, the Pacific nations issued a tsunami warning after a magnitude 7.5 earthquake hit the island of Sulawesi. At 4 pm, the deadly wave hit the cities of Palu, capital of the island's central province, and the small town of Donggala. Following the earthquake, several strong aftershocks, including one of magnitude 6.7, hit.

According to the latest official toll, at least 1,200 people were killed and 48,000 displaced. In view of the scale of the catastrophe, the Indonesian government called for international aid on October 1st.

The infrastructures of the three national telecom operators were severely damaged, making communications very difficult. The Donggala area is totally disconnected and only one operator works partially in part of the city of Palu. In addition, the considerable damages on roads and airport infrastructures represent a challenge to the arrival of humanitarian organisations in this area, making relief operations very difficult.


Upon the announcement of the disaster, Télécoms Sans Frontières deployed two teamsequipped with emergency satellite equipment, from the headquarters and base Asia. After a brief transit in the city of Makassar, they are currently on their way to Palu to offer technical expertise to rescue teams and affected populations.

TSF was solicited by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to reinforce the support of their emergency response and evaluation teams (ERAT) to the Indonesian National Agency for Disaster Management (BNPB) and local authorities.

"We had no choice but the road.” reports Emmanuel Jean, one of our ICT experts present in the field. “We drove for 30 hours to get to the affected area as quickly as possible. We finally arrived in Palu and set up a broadband satellite connection."

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Support to national coordination

As soon as they arrived in Palu, one of the most affected areas, TSF engineers installed an Internet connection for the humanitarian coordination centre to the benefit of ERAT and other on-site organizations.

This satellite connection facilitates the work of humanitarian actors. They can send their reports and transmit information on humanitarian needs. This connection is also important for the logistics organisation from Jakarta and Makassar.

Humanitarian calling operations

In parallel, TSF continues to assess needs south and north of Palu, to the localities closest to the epicentre. The teams carry out mobile humanitarian calling operations in isolated communities to enable them to contact their relatives, but also to seek help.

They are also studying the possibility of sending a mobile team to provide the most isolated victims with temporary Internet access. This allows them to use their cell phones to connect to their social networks, instant messaging platforms and communicate via voice or video.

The situation is constantly evolving and the response of TSF must respond to the assessed needs. We will keep you informed soon of the evolution of this mission.