President Benigno S. Aquino III on Wednesday expressed sorrow and concern for the people of Indonesia devastated by the recent earthquake and tsunami.
The President, who is here for a two-day state visit and to attend the three-day 17th ASEAN Leaders Summit, also ordered Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin to send search and rescue teams to Indonesia.
The Chief Executive expressed confidence that the country’s southern neighbor will be able to ”meet this challenge with the resolve compassion, and unity that has marked their response to national calamities in the past.”
The President disclosed that Indonesia President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who is also here for a state visit and to attend the ASEAN Summit will have to travel back to Indonesia to lead his people in the rescue, recovery and rebuilding efforts.
His scheduled bilateral meeting with the Indonesian President on the sidelines of the 17th ASEAN Summit may no longer push through.
At least 108 people were killed, and hundreds remained missing Wednesday, after a tsunami smashed into a remote Indonesian island chain while in central Java a volcanic eruption left 13 people dead.
The 7.7-magnitude quake struck in the Mentawai Islands area west of Sumatra late Monday, generating waves as high as three meters (10 feet) that swept away 10 villages.
Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago, is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity due to its location on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire — a series of fault lines stretching from the Western Hemisphere through Japan and Southeast Asia.
The country’s most volatile volcano, Mount Merapi, 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) to the east, started to erupt at dusk Tuesday as scientists warned that pressure building beneath its lava dome could trigger one of the most powerful blasts in years.