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Disease fear as Indonesia battles devastation ASIAN CITIES - Indonesian soldiers and volunteers are searching for bodies in treetops and laying dead babies in fish crates, trying to clean up before disease could spread after a tsunami killed 4,500 people. Many of the dead were youngsters and elderly who drowned in waters churning with huge rocks, logs and the remnants of homes uprooted by earthquake-triggered waves that slammed into Aceh province on the northern tip of Sumatra island on Sunday.
The United Nations said on Monday it had offered to send disaster response teams into restive Aceh, currently off-limits to foreign aid workers on safety grounds because of a long-running insurgency. A government official said the province would be open from Wednesday. Thousands huddled in mosques, tents and larger buildings across Aceh a day after the 9.0 magnitude earthquake, the world's biggest in 40 years, struck off the coast of Sumatra.
Volunteers laid the bodies of children in rows under sarongs at makeshift morgues filled with dozens of bodies as trucks delivered more corpses, TV pictures showed. Some dead babies were put in white fish crates or wrapped in plastic orange sheeting. Wailing mothers mourned their loss. "It smells so bad ... The human bodies are mixed in with dead animals like dogs, fish, cats and goats," Marine Colonel Buyung Lelana, head of an evacuation team in Lhokseumawe city on the northern coast of Aceh, told Reuters by telephone.
"There are still a lot of bodies under the wreckage of collapsed houses and in rivers and swamps that we have not yet evacuated. Most of them are children and their mothers." As the first commercial flight to land in the devastated provincial capital Banda Aceh on Monday approached the airport, thousands of destroyed houses could be seen along the ocean shore. Debris littered the streets of Banda Aceh, where the Health Ministry has said 3,000 people died.
State Secretary Yusril Ihza Mahendra, who works closely with the president, told a news conference in Jakarta the death toll was 4,491 but said many more were still missing. The wall of water up to 10 metres (30 ft) high that followed the earthquake killed more than 14,500 people across southern Asia as it swept across the Indian Ocean. Fresh tremors on Monday rattled the strongly Muslim province of Aceh but no new damage was reported. Officials rushed to bury the dead to prevent disease and comply with Muslim tradition.

SHORTAGE OF COFFINS

I'm hoping there are still enough coffins available," said Mustofa, mayor of Aceh's Bireuen regency, adding that bodies bore terrible wounds from rocks and other debris. Military officials said they feared the toll would rise significantly once contact was established with remote areas in the province, some 1,700 km (1,060 miles) northwest of Jakarta. "It's possible the death toll will mount because many corpses are still caught up in trees," said Lieutenant-Colonel Belyuni, military chief for North Aceh district.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has declared three days of national mourning and flags around the archipelago of 220 million people were being flown at half mast. Aceh is under civilian emergency rule as part of efforts to quell a separatist insurgency. Foreign aid agencies have been barred from operating there for safety reasons. Mohamed Saleheen, acting U.N. resident representative and humanitarian coordinator in Indonesia, said the world body had offered to send disaster response teams into Aceh.
"We have made ourselves available to the government and we are just waiting for the government's response on how they would like the United Nations to cooperate," Saleheen told Reuters. Sunday's quake was the world's fourth-biggest since 1900. "There have not been any reports of disease yet, but we in the military will be cooperating closely with the health ministry to anticipate the spread of diseases," said Lieutenant-Colonel Edi Sulistiadi, a military spokesman in Lhokseumawe.
The U.N. warned of epidemics within days across southern Asia if health systems could not cope, saying the effects of disease could be as bad as the tsunami itself. Many bodies in Indonesia have been found on beaches and swept into trees by the force of the raging waters.

Thousands killed in massive tsunami




Posted in Earthquake @ 27 December 2004 00:02 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

indahnesia.com lists all earthquakes that occur in Indonesia. For your convenience we display them in a list and a Google Map. It is as accurate and recent as you can imagine as we check for updates every few minutes. If an earthquake occurs in Indonesia, this is the place to check it out in the first place.






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