Rapid Response:
Rapid response assemblies are provided on the site when there is an event in the news, good or bad, that touches children's lives, so we can offer you a way to acknowledge it in your collective worship.


By Ronni Lamont

An assembly that may be used as a response to the recent earthquakes in the Indonesia/Pacific area: 29-30 September/1 October 2009

NB As the statistics for this disaster will change rapidly, please check these before using the assembly


Suitable for Key Stage 2


To reflect on the recent earthquakes in the Indonesia/Pacific area.

Preparation and resources
  1. Many of you will have heard that there have been earthquakes, and a tsunami affecting countries in South East Asia.
  2. On Tuesday 29 September, there was an earthquake under the Pacific Ocean near the islands of Samoa and Tonga, which caused a series of huge waves, called Tsunami. These were about 6 metres high, and travelled very quickly.
  3. Tsunami occur when the sea bed shifts, and the water flows in quickly to the new surface. This causes the waves, and you may remember back to 2004, when huge numbers of people died on the night after Christmas following a massive tsunami. Since then the area has installed special tsunami warnings, so the people who live next to the sea know to go up to higher ground and safety.
  4. On Tuesday the earthquake that caused the tsunami was so near to the shore that the people had very little warning to get out. Even so, far fewer people died than might have done, but the damage to their homes, villages and towns is enormous.
  5. The next day two earthquakes struck relatively close by, on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The centre of the earthquake, the epicentre, was close to the local capital city, Padang. Buildings collapsed and many people have died. Lots of people live in Padang, and at the moment we donít know how many have died or been injured. Many were buried under buildings and will have to be dug out.
  6. At the moment, the official number of people who have died is over 1,000 (check), but the final toll will be higher.
  7. This earthquake was followed later the same day by another one close by. Power lines were brought down by the earthquakes, so communication with the area has been difficult.
  8. All three earthquakes took place along the same fault line that runs under the Pacific Ocean, which often moves and causes quakes.
  9. The area is relatively close to Australia, and the people there have offered help to Indonesia. The sort of equipment needed is heavy lifting gear to dig out people who are trapped, along with shelter for the homeless, food and clean water. Specially trained sniffer dogs will also be used to find people who are trapped under rubble.
  10. We live in an area that rarely experiences earth tremors, and no one can remember an earthquake. But our own fire and rescue workers often go abroad to help in these sorts of situations - we share what we have with people in need.

Time for reflection

Light a candle, and let the students settle on the flame. Play the music.

These words come from the Bible, part of the book called the Psalms; poems written by people many years ago to express their feelings to each other and to God.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest.
In you our ancestors trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them
Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.
(Psalm 22)

Can you hear the people in the earthquake zones saying these words? They might feel as if God has left them, and there is no one to help them.


Yet we know that people will help. Help is on its way even as we think about those who have been made homeless, or who wait for news of friends and family.

And things will slowly get better again. Town and villages will be rebuilt. It wonít be like it was before, but hopefully the new buildings will be better, less likely to collapse in an earthquake.

Donít forget; we used the knowledge we gained from the tsunami in 2004 to create a system that has saved many lives this time.

Perhaps youíd like to contribute some money to the emergency fund that (will be/has been) set up? Think of ways that your school could act to help the people who have suffered this week...


We remember all those whose lives have been shattered by the tsunami and earthquakes this week.
We ask God to help all those who will be involved in relief work; bringing food, shelter and help to those who now have nothing.
We ask God to be especially close to all those who feel alone, and frightened;
Those who are still trapped in buildings,
Those who have lost loved ones.
And we thank God, that whenever disaster strikes, human beings join together to help those in need..


Song suggestion

'When I needed a neighbour' (Come and Praise, 65)




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