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Indonesia struggles to aid stricken coast BANDA ACEH - Military pilots struggled to drop food into cliff-rimmed villages Thursday along the ravaged coast of Sumatra, where towns strewn with bloating corpses remained isolated for a fifth day after a huge earthquake and tsunami devastated the region. UNICEF estimated 60 percent of this provincial capital was destroyed, along with severe damage across the northwest coast, a stretch of about 250 kilometers (155 miles).
Government institutions had ceased to function and basic supplies such as fuel had almost run out, forcing even ambulances to ration gasoline and generating lines outside gas stations almost a kilometer long. "Everything here has collapsed," said Brig. Gen. Achmad Hiayat, surgeon general of Indonesia's Armed Forces. "Even the government has collapsed. The hospitals, medical services are in disarray." All of the Indonesian deaths were reported on Sumatra.
Budi Aditutro, head of the government's relief team, said food drops had begun in western Aceh province on Sumatra, mostly of instant noodles and medicines. He said some were successful, but other areas "were hard to reach because they are surrounded by cliffs." Though health experts warned that contaminated water, the spread of disease and dwindling food supplies were a bigger danger, officials here focused on the grisly task of disposing of the masses of the dead.
Countless corpses, many of them young children, remained strewn around the streets and floating in the rivers of this devastated provincial capital, rotting in the tropical sun. Truck loads of bodies were delivered to freshly-dug, mass graves. Other corpses were swept up into the mountains of debris that clogged the narrow streets. Military spokesman Ahmad Yani Basuki said 620 bodies were buried Thursday. He said hundreds more could be seen, but must be dug out of debris.
Soldiers and police guarded abandoned shops in the city's market amid fears of looting. Three alleged looters caught by police were stripped to their underpants and forced to sit on the street as a warning to others. Aftershocks were also deepening fears, as crowds huddled in makeshift refugee centers in mosques, schools and government buildings. About 160 aftershocks were detected by late Thursday afternoon, with the strongest, of magnitude 6, on Sunday. Others ranged between 4.8 and 5.8.
Gauging the scale of the tragedy remains difficult. On Sumatra's west coast, which was closest to Sunday's magnitude 9.0 quake, communications were down and many roads have been blocked by collapsed houses or washed out by the deadly tsunami. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono held a meeting of his top Cabinet advisers Thursday. He was expected to fly to Sumatra on Saturday for a second time to personally inspect the damage.
He called on Indonesians to pray, and said he was seeking the convening of an international aid conference. Dozens of doctors began arriving in this city to staff emergency hospitals. Sporadic electricity and cellular phone service had returned in some parts of Banda Aceh. But Nurdin acknowledged that supplies were piling up in a regional airport, with officials unable to get them through to where they were needed. The quake adds on to political woes that have long plagued Sumatra.
Aceh has been wracked by a separatist war for the past 26 years. Jakarta had banned foreign journalists and international aid agency representatives from visiting the region, but on Monday it lifted the ban and said it would welcome aid. The government has estimated it will cost $150 million (euro110 million) to rebuild the province in the coming year and more than $1 billion (euro735 million) over the next five years.



Posted in Earthquake @ 31 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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