Nias earthquake victims left untreated

Tuesday, April 5, 2005
By nias

Tuesday, April 05, 2005 Apriadi Gunawan, The Jakarta Post, Gunung Sitoli

For two days, Fajarman Harefa has been crying out in pain because his left leg is broken. He was injured after his house on Nias island collapsed when the 8.7-magnitude earthquake rocked the island.

Only when his brother, Darma Harefa, treated the wound with antiseptic and wrapped it in simple cloth, Fajarman felt some relief.

Darma said he had to treat his brother although he had no medical or first aid experience.

"I'm confused, I don't know what to do to treat my brother's leg. He is in pain and I feel sad seeing him like that," 20-year-old Darma, a resident of Namohalu Esiwa district in Nias regency, told The Jakarta Post recently.

After his brother cleaned his wound, Fajarman was then taken by volunteers to a medical post in a school near Pelita Gunung Sitoli field.

At the post he was left untreated, prompting some volunteers to suggest that he be evacuated to Medan for medical treatment.

Fajarman said he was disappointed that he did not receive immediate medical attention.

"I was not given medical treatment at the post for hours, now I am told that I will be taken to Medan for treatment," said Fajarman before being taken to Medan on board a Singapore government Chinook helicopter.

Another quake victim, Adimani Halawa, also had to endured pain in her left leg, which was completely torn apart when the restaurant where she worked in was flattened in the quake.

"At the time of the disaster, I tried to run out of the restaurant. But the lights went out so I couldn't find the way out. Suddenly, the restaurant building collapsed and I was hit on my left leg. I fainted and woke up in the morning," the 25-year-old woman recalled.

The woman then tried to find cloth to cover her wound and then walked to the street, hoping to get help. But a day after the quake, there was no one to help her.

"Everyone was busy looking for their relatives under the collapsed buildings. For a whole day I tried to survive, and I lost lots of blood," she said.

She finally reached the medical post on the second day. There, what remained of her leg was wrapped in a bandage.

"Until now, I don't know the fate of my family," Adimani, whose family lives in Helaombo village in Gomo district, Nias regency, told the Post on Friday.

A volunteer at the medical post near Pelita field said on Friday that medical supplies at her post were not enough to treat quake victims. Due to the shortage of medical supplies and equipment some of the victims had to be evacuated out of the island to Medan or Sibolga, in North Sumatra.

Health minister Siti Fadilah said during her visit to Gunung Sitoli that her office had sent 27 doctors from Jakarta, including surgeons.

The ministry, she added, would also immediately send medical supplies to treat quake victims in Nias.

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