Catholic groups in Indonesia have descended on eastern Java to distribute aid to victims of the deadly tsunami that struck coastal areas last week along the Sunda Strait
separating the island with Sumatra. At least 437 people were killed by the tsunami that devastated Pandeglang and Serang districts in Banten province as well as South Lampung, Pesawaran dan Tanggamus districts in Lampung province on Dec. 22, according to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency. On Jan. 2, the agency also reported that 16 people were still missing, while at least 14,000 were reported injured and almost 34,000 were displaced by the disaster triggered by an underwater landslide following the eruption of the Anak Krakatau (child of Krakatoa
) volcano, which is still erupting and could trigger another killer wave. As well as the human cost the 3-meter-high waves also damaged thousands of buildings, including more than 25,000 homes. The devastation resulted in thousands being crammed into makeshift evacuation centers. A few days after the tsunami struck, Divine Word Father Paulus Rahmat, coordinator of rights group VIVAT International
-Indonesia, led a joint church team in distributing initial aid in Tunggal Jaya, a village in Pandeglang the worst hit district. Other team members included church people from the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission and the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit. "The village we went to, there were 58 houses totally damaged," Father Rahmat told ucanews.com. The aim of the visit was to distribute initial aid that included basic necessities but also to assess the scale of the problem, the priest said. He said the team would be returning to the disaster zone with more aid early next week. "We will distribute blankets and mats for the elderly and young. We will also hand out tools so that they can build temporary shelters," he said. Besides immediate concerns, much of their focus would be on rebuilding efforts, he said In Lampung province, Tanjungkarang Diocese has been operating an aid post and a public kitchen in the compound of a mission station church served by St. Christophorus Parish in South Lampung district since Dec. 24. "The aid post has distributed clothes and basic necessities to about 400 families affected by the tsunami, while the kitchen prepares at least 1,000 boxed meals per day cooked by volunteers," said Father Wolfram Safari from the local branch of the church's social action arm Caritas.