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INDONESIA: Aid slow to arrive after quake
Without any food aid, a woman is forced to cook vegetable scraps for her children in Ketaping Village, Padang Pariaman district, West Sumatra
PADANG, 4 October 2009 (IRIN) - Four days after a devastating earthquake hit West Sumatra province in Indonesia, survivors say little or no humanitarian assistance has reached them, leaving some to beg for money.
At least 603 people have been killed and 343 people were missing and believed trapped under collapsed buildings after the 30 September quake, according to data from the disaster relief coordination post at the West Sumatra governor’s office.
Residents in the worst-hit district of Padang Pariaman set up barriers on the roads near their damaged houses, begging for donations from motorists. Some survivors also pitched tents outside their damaged houses.
“Since the earthquake, we haven't received anything,” said Riswan Zailani, whose family home was flattened in the quake, leaving only its corrugated zinc roof visible.
“I heard there's a lot of assistance coming but where is it?” said Zailani, who stood in the middle of the road waving a can to passing motorists asking for money.
According to the governor’s office, around 3,000 people have been injured in the quake, some seriously, while 83,000 homes were badly damaged.
The health ministry‘s crisis centre estimated the death toll could reach more than 1,000, with another 618 people believed killed when landslides triggered by the earthquake buried three entire hamlets in Padang Pariaman.
Rustam Pakaya, head of the crisis centre, also estimated that 3,000 people were still missing.
Relief slow to come
|The earthquake struck off the city of Padang on Indonesia's Sumatra island on 30 September
The Indonesian government is leading emergency response operations, providing search and rescue services, and food and non-food relief items, while neighbouring provinces are also sending food and other assistance.
However, officials admitted that many survivors had not received aid yet.
“We have distributed whatever we have. Many have not received assistance because the stuff is still on its way,” Ade Edwar, head of West Sumatra's disaster coordinating agency, told IRIN.
“Relief supplies from Jakarta are expected to arrive as soon as today. What else can we give them?” he said.
Edwar said two ships carrying tents from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) were on their way to Padang, West Sumatra’s capital, and that many food warehouses in Padang were damaged by the quake.
“We are not in a supermarket. We are in an emergency situation,” he said.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on 3 October, access to some places, particularly inland mountainous areas, is difficult as many land routes have been cut by landslides.
While mobile communications have been restored to many areas, including Padang, quake survivors are also struggling with a lack of electricity and clean water, forcing some to bathe in rivers.
“I know it's not clean, but it's better than not taking a bath for days,” said Afrizal, a Padang resident.
Dody Ruswandi, head of the provincial Public Works Department, said one of four water treatment plants supplying West Sumatra was damaged, cutting the water supply to 70,000 homes.
“We need 30 days to fix it. We know this situation is causing a lot of discomfort to people,” he said.
Water tanks have been dispatched to several areas and mobile water treatment equipment was on its way from Jakarta, he said.
Photo: Jefri Aries/IRIN
|A quake survivor waits for aid amid the ruins of her house in Ketaping Village, Padang Pariaman district, West Sumatra
“Hopefully this will ease the hardship but, of course, it won't be the same as before the earthquake,” he said.
International aid efforts
According to OCHA, immediate needs include medical supplies and personnel, hygiene kits, soap, petrol, generators, food and shelter.
WFP Indonesia said it was conducting an assessment of the situation and senior programme assistant Mispan Indarjo said the agency would focus on providing micronutrients for children under five in the form of biscuits.
UNICEF is to distribute relief items such as water pumps and hygiene kits for 50,000 families, while the UN Development Programme has deployed a waste management team.
More than 400 rescuers from countries such as Singapore, Australia, Germany, Turkey, Korea, Switzerland and Japan are helping their Indonesian counterparts search for the missing.
Edwar said search and rescue efforts would last until six days after the quake, around 6 October.
“We are still hopeful of finding more survivors,” he said.