Damaged roads hinder relief efforts in Nias

Friday, April 1, 2005
By nias

Friday, April 01, 2005 The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Crucial aid was headed toward Nias island on Thursday, but severely damaged roads and ports were slowing down efforts to get help to thousands of people affected by Monday's earthquake.

Relief agencies are forced to use helicopters to ferry food, medical supplies and tents to the island, because the runway at the island's only airport was badly damaged in the quake, leaving it unable to serve large aircraft. Most of the roads on Nias are also impassable.

"I have received 100 tents for the residents of Nias, most of whom do not have roofs above their heads. But so far I have only been able to transport a few to Nias," Second Lt. J. Hutauruk, the head of logistics at the Air Force base in Medan, told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

"One tent weighs 65 kilograms, while a helicopter from the Singapore military can only carry a ton. We also have to prioritize the transportation of medicine, doctors and paramedics. So we can only load two or three tents per flight," he said.

The base has received food aid, potable water and power generators from various donors. However, most of the bottled water, water purifying plants and generators are sitting on the base waiting to be transported to the island.

The United Nations World Food Program estimated 200,000 Nias residents will require food aid for about two months. According to government data, there are more than 422,000 residents on the island.

"Please, sir, help us, we are starving," said a man in the Nias capital of Gunung Sitoli, as dozens of people looted a government store while the police looked on.

The grim search for survivors trapped beneath the rubble continued on Thursday, but badly needed heavy equipment failed to get ashore due to damaged ports.

Indonesian Military chief Gen. Endriartono Sutarto said there were four large excavators aboard naval ships, but they were still trying to get the equipment ashore.

Officials have said the death toll from Monday's earthquake could be as high as 2,000. The United Nations said on Thursday it had recovered some 624 bodies, including 600 on Nias island and the remainder on the neighboring islands of Simeulue and Banyak.

"We do anticipate that figure is still going to go up," UN Development Program spokeswoman Imogen Wall said.

French and Norwegian rescuers pulled a boy and young woman alive from two separate buildings overnight, both relatively unscathed despite spending more than 50 hours trapped in the wreckage.

"They suffered from bruises and cuts all over their bodies, but other than that they were in relatively good condition," said Florent Dalmon of Pompiers Sans Frontieres, or Firefighters Without Borders.

Dalmon said his team used sledgehammers and bolt cutters to free the 19-year-old woman, while Olaf Lingiaerae of the Norwegian Support Team said the boy, 15, was hauled from the third floor of a collapsed five-story building.

Aftershocks continued to cause alarm among islanders and relief workers, with around 700 aftershocks having been recorded since Monday's major quake measuring 8.7 on the Richter scale.

Thousands of Nias residents are still taking refuge in the mountains because of fears of a tsunami, while others are sleeping in makeshift shelters.

Hundreds of injured people are being treated at a makeshift hospital on a football field in the center of Gunung Sitoli, and aid workers on the island say more help is needed.

4 Responses to “Damaged roads hinder relief efforts in Nias”

  1. 1
    Oliver Jones Says:

    Food Aids are badly needed by third world countries like in Africa in Asia.:-“

  2. 2
    autaze Says:

    also mr. jones,
    not all nias inhabitants is farmer. and once after the quake, all the farmers keep their crops themselves. what could then my parents feed their 3 children and my grandma?
    and lets say that a niasan is a farmer. he can’t feed his family with rubber, cacao, or coconut. not all farmer could directly use their harvest to feed their family. some farmer are too poor to have their own land, so they can’t save any food for the family.
    farmer in nias is not always quite likely like farmer in your country.

  3. 3
    Nathaniel Wood Says:

    food aids are badly needed by third world countries and we really need to give something to the poor.:.”

  4. 4
    Acne Remedy ` Says:

    food aids are mostly needed by the poor coutnries in africa and also in asia`'”

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Kalender Berita

April 2005