42 quake survivors in South Nias die in shelters

Tuesday, April 12, 2005
By nias

Tuesday, April 12, 2005 Apriadi Gunawan, The Jakarta Post, Medan

At least 42 quake victims in South Nias regency reportedly died in emergency shelters due to a lack of medical attention and food aid, an official claimed on Monday.

Secretary of the South Nias earthquake disaster coordination post, Herman Laiya, said most of the victims who died in the shelters after the 8.7-magnitude earthquake rocked the island on March 28 were children, teenagers and elderly residents from Gomo and Teluk Dalam districts.

The victims died due to a lack of medical attention after suffering serious injuries, such as broken bones and concussion, he added.

Herman said hundreds of South Nias residents had suffered serious injuries and were still waiting for medical attention.

He also blamed slow food aid distribution as a factor causing death among people injured in the earthquake.

"Some people injured in the quake stayed in the shelters for two or three days, then died. I'm worried the number will increase if medical and food assistance does not immediately reach this regency," Herman told The Jakarta Post by phone from Medan.

He put the number of deaths in the regency as a result of the earthquake at 142 people, 42 of whom had later died in emergency shelters.

Many refugees, he added, still preferred to stay in hilly areas, sleeping in tents, because of concerns about aftershocks.

According to coordination post data, the number of displaced persons in South Nias regency stood at 3,749 people, and 23,855 from Nias regency.

Secretary of the North Sumatra disaster prevention post, Edy Aman Saragih, said he had not yet received reports about people with injuries who subsequently died in the shelters, expressing doubt that people died from lack of food or medical attention.

He said that two weeks after the quake, medical services and food aid distribution were operating effectively in the island's two regencies.

However, Herman said food aid to South Nias was not being evenly distributed because several bridges were still down.

"Food aid distribution is still limited to South Nias. Since the quake, we've only distributed rice on two occasions to people, each time giving them two cupfuls," he said.

Information coordinator at the Nias regency coordination post, R.E. Nainggolan, said that no one in the regency had died for want of medical attention or food aid. The quake claimed 492 lives in the regency, and 50 are still missing.

All hospitals and clinics in Nias regency were back in operation and providing free medical services, he said.

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