On the 14 July 1976, a major earthquake registering 5.5 on the Richter scale rocked the paradise island of Bali. It resulted in the total destruction of some densely-populated villages, leaving some 532 dead, 3,000 injured and 70,000 homeless. The Singapore Government responded to this tragedy by sending a SAF Medical Relief mission of 20 personnel to Bali on 27 Jul 76. The team, led by MAJ(DR) Winston Koh, arrived at Bali bringing with them 3,500kg of medical supplies and equipment.
The team set up its mission headquarters and base camp on the northern town of Seririt, in Bulelin, some 65 kilometers northwest of the capital, Denpasar. The team worked side by side with other medical teams from the Indonesian Red Crescent and the University of Bandang and Diponegoro. Medical teams were dispatched daily to the surrounding villages to setup medical posts where medical consultation, treatment and immunization were provided for the villages. This entailed trekking on foot to inaccessible mountain villages carrying all their equipment and supplies. There was also a constant fear of aftershocks, with the team experiencing three separate tremors.
0n 15 Aug 76, the SAF medical team returned to Singapore. In all, close to 3,000 patients were treated, and the team contributed about one-fifth of the entire relief operation in the two weeks that they were there. The team returned with valuable lessons on the provision and administration of medical aid under adverse conditions.