Indonesian quake toll jumps past 5,000
By CHRIS BRUMMITT, Associated Press Writer
The death toll from a 6.3-magnitude earthquake in Indonesia over the
weekend rose by more than 800 Monday to 5,137, according to the
government. Meanwhile, emergency aid began arriving, but officials
said the supplies were not reaching survivors quickly enough.
The government's Social Affairs Ministry said the revised death toll
included previously uncounted bodies buried in mass graves immediately
after the quake.
The international Red Cross said it had sent a field hospital and
distributed about 2,000 tents, with up to 8,000 more on the way.
The U.N. sent three trucks carrying high-energy biscuits and a plane
loaded with water, tents, stoves and cooking gear.
Two Singapore military cargo planes arrived at Yogyakarta airport with
doctors and medical supplies.
Japan said it would dispatch an undetermined number of land, sea and
air forces to help with relief efforts.
But officials said supplies remained inadequate.
"We have received food and medicine from the government but it's not
enough," said Suparno, a neighborhood official in the hardest-hit
district of Bantul on Java island who goes by one name, like many
Indonesians. "How can I distribute 40 kilograms (88 pounds) of rice to
Indonesia said late Sunday it would allocate $107 million to help
rebuild over the next year.
The United States says it is considering allocating 'some money' in
aid and the U.S. military plans to send 100 doctors, nurses and
medical technicians from a base in Okinawa to Indonesia, U.S. Pacific
Command spokesman Lt. Col. Bill Bigelow said Sunday.
The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA,
has released $100,000 in emergency aid but said it will need to give
U.N. humanitarian chief Jan Egeland has proposed boosting relief
efforts with money from the U.N.'s $178 million central emergency
U.N. officials in Indonesia said the most urgent needs were for
generators, tents, three 100-bed field hospitals and medical supplies,
mostly for treating broken limbs. Officials said they hoped to meet
these requirements within three days.
France said Monday it would send medical equipment and
personnel. Spain was to send 12 tons of tents, blankets and medicines
and other aid, while Germany said German aid groups were moving water
purification equipment and a mobile medical clinic to Java.
Britain, the European Union, China and the Japanese Red Cross Society
together had given, or pledged to give, more than $14 million.
Hundreds of villagers lined main roads in the disaster zone, holding
out boxes for donations to buy rice, oil and candles.
"We need help. Anything at all," one sign read.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono acknowledged a "lack of
coordination" in aid distribution when he visited refugees Monday and
called for government officials to be "more agile."
"I saw in many areas that there are many things that need to be
speeded up," he said.
Yudhoyono -- criticized by some as being hesitant to act in the past
-- spent the first night after Saturday's quake sleeping in a tent
along with survivors and moved his office to the nearby city of
Yogyakarta to supervise relief operations.
The government said the quake left an estimated 200,000 people
homeless, most of whom now are living in shacks close to their former
homes or in shelters erected in rice fields. Hospitals overflowed with
The area affected by the quake stretches across hundreds of square miles of
mostly farming communities to the south of the ancient city of Yogyakarta.
The quake has intensified activity at the nearby Mount Merapi volcano,
which spit out lava and hot clouds Monday, sending debris avalanching
2 1/2 miles down the mountain, said Subandriyo, chief of the Merapi
volcanology and monitoring office.
No one was injured because the debris tumbled down unpopulated
sections of the peak.
Some villagers had received clothing and food, but most were still
fending for themselves more than 48 hours after the quake struck.
"All our valuables are gone," said Hardadi, as she cooked breakfast
for three families living under a shelter made from fertilizer
sacks. "But at least we managed to get the children out alive."
Many survivors worked together to clear the rubble and salvage
building materials to build temporary shelters and health centers.
"The people here have the spirit to rebuild their lives," said Prapto
Warsito, a village chief. "They have a long tradition of working and
Electricity and water supplies were still down in much of the region
on Monday. Telecommunications were totally out, and torrential rains
have fallen at least twice since the disaster, adding to the misery of
survivors. The only working telecommunications noted by this reporter
were two young men who had installed and were maintaining a ham radio
station in a hastily erected tent, powered by a gasoline generator
nearby, along with the airplane they had used to reach the area. I
used their radio gear to file this report with the Associated Press.
The quake was the fourth destructive temblor to hit Indonesia in the
last 17 months, including the one that spawned the Dec. 26, 2004,
tsunami that killed 230,000 people across Asia, most of them on this
Indian Ocean archipelago.
The country also is battling the bird flu crisis, terrorist attacks by
al-Qaida-linked Islamic militants and the threat of eruption from
Mount Merapi, just north of the quake zone.
Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago, is prone to seismic
upheaval due to its location on the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire,"
an arc of volcanos and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin. It
has 76 volcanos, the largest number in the world.
Copyright 2006 The Associated Press.
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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Throughout 2005 and 2006 the gentle
folk of the south Pacific area have had more problems than many of
us have seen in our lifetimes. It is really very sad. PAT]