An aircraft carrying supplies to assist with relief operations in tsunami-ravaged Samoa arrived in Apia Tuesday evening at approx. 9.30pm. The shipment, organized by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will be used to supplement the large-scale relief efforts of government authorities in Samoa, as well as the contributions from the Australian and New Zealand governments.
The Church brought the supplies together from its warehouses in Salt Lake City, Utah. The aircraft, a DC-10, contained 150,000 lbs (75 short tons) of materials. This included food [cans of tuna, rice, dry milk, beef, pork, corn, peaches and pears], hygiene kits, clothing and linen, wheelchairs, crutches, collapsible water containers, water bottle filters and mosquito nets.
“Dozens of villages were completely destroyed, resulting in hundreds of families losing everything.” said Elder James J. Hamula of the Church’s First Quorum of Seventy. The first counselor in the Pacific Area Presidency said this shipment is expected to care for 2,000 people for 3-4 weeks.
Hamula is expected to travel to the region in the coming days to monitor distribution of the supplies.
The Church was joined by Islamic Relief Worldwide to distribute commodities.
Elder Tad R. Callister, the president of the Church’s Pacific Area, welcomed the arrival of the shipment and praised those who have played a part in coordinating the Latter-day Saint response.
“Although the Church has a large storage of items which are used for disaster relief around the world, these items in fact come from the financial contributions of individual Church members,”said Elder Callister. “This is a perfect example of the widow’s mite being added to the offerings of those who may be more prosperous. Church members from all walks of life find great joy in assisting those who are in dire circumstances whether in their local communities or on the other side of the globe.”
Elder Callister said that the Area Presidency and Church authorities in Samoa had worked closely with the Church’s Welfare Department staff in Salt Lake City to prepare the Church’s response.
“We are very grateful for the speed with which they have brought together the Church’s shipment and the work of our colleagues in Samoa who have done so much already to assist those who are suffering. We also thank the Samoan government for allowing us the opportunity of helping. We marvel at the success of their efforts in so short a time and yet know there still is much to be accomplished.”
“This disaster has taken its toll on many in the region and the support from this airlift will make a difference when it comes to much-needed food and medical supplies,” said Mostafa Mahboob,Communications Director for the Muslim humanitarian organization.
On 29 September, the islands of Samoa, and part of Tonga experienced an 8.3 magnitude earthquake. Four tsunamis were generated. Nearly 200 casualties, many more injured and still others unaccounted for.
Prepared by the LDS Newsroom
Associated Press says nearly 90 percent of residents in American Samoa were left homeless and without resources.
“Those in the path of the earthquake find themselves in the hills, living under tarps and have nothing by the clothes on their backs,” said Hamula. He said reaching out is a natural extension of doctrinal beliefs.
“We reach out to all who are struggling, rendered homeless and hungry,” he said from the tarmac as the DC-10 plane was loaded.
Elder Quentin L. Cook, of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles talked of the nature of the Church’s humanitarian service in the most recent General Conference.
“In all of our stewardship efforts we follow Jesus Christ. We try to emulate what he has asked us to do, both by His teachings and His example.”
This shipment will supplement overall relief efforts, including contributions from the Australian, New Zealand and United States governments.
The Church is also contributing humanitarian aid to on-going efforts in the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and Turkey.