May 31, 2006
Quake survivors immunized, some still need aid
By Achmad Sukarsono
BANTUL, Indonesia (Reuters) - Indonesia began immunizing
quake survivors against measles on Wednesday and helicopters
swept disaster sites on Java island to look for isolated
victims, but help was still too slow for many.
government was also evacuating patients from hospitals in the
immediate area to more distant cities to relieve overcrowding.
"For now (the hospitals) are starting to get tidy and we
have penetrated isolated areas using mobile clinics ...
helicopters dispatch food while airlifting the patients," she
"Today we are continuing to comb (the region) to make sure
there are no untouched areas."
Saturday's 6.3 magnitude earthquake, centered just off the
Indian Ocean coast near Yogyakarta, has killed 5,846 people and
left 130,000 homeless.
Hardest hit is Bantul, where entire villages were leveled
and homes reduced to piles of wood, tiles and tin.
There are no signs of disease, but medicines were being
sent to affected areas to prevent diseases like measles and
Some survivors said they still lacked more basic aid.
"We get aid from private donors, but we haven't received
any from the government," said Mohammad Aziz, 35, who managed
to save his nephew, but lost his 68-year-old father in the
Amid a heap of rubble, Aziz retrieved the doors from his
house, which he plans to use as a floorboard in his tent.
"When it rains, our tent will be flooded. Because there is
no flooring, we will be on wet soil," he said, gazing at the
spot where he found his father's body.
Charlie Higgins, U.N. team leader in Yogyakarta, told
Reuters problems were to be expected in such situations.
"It's very difficult in terms of meeting the most urgent
need immediately... distribution is always a challenge when you
are starting from scratch," he said.
Higgins said Indonesia's government should be able to
handle the Java aid situation without the U.N. taking a leading
role, in contrast to the situation in Aceh province after the
December 2004 earthquake and tsunami left 170,000 dead or
"...the role here is very different to Aceh. This is not an
overwhelming disaster for the authorities, certainly not at a
national level, but not even at a provincial level. So it's a
question of (the U.N.) supporting, very much, their lead."
Dozens of countries ranging from South Korea and Singapore
to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have pledged cash,
supplies and personnel. U.N. agencies and private international
organizations began sending aid soon after the quake.
The Geneva-based International Organization for Migration
said it was helping patients move back to their home areas from
hospitals and had transported 100 metric tons of goods on
Tuesday and loaded a further 38 metric tons on Wednesday
Much of the aid flow is coming through Yogyakarta airport,
where Japanese paramedics and U.S. Marine medical personnel
landed this week to reinforce government aid and workers.
Still, residents of Sampangan Kidul village said on
Wednesday proper shelter and goods were erratic in coming.
"I want to make a hut, because our tents right now do not
have proper roofs," said Marsan, 45, who lost his house in the
quake, estimated to have flattened more than 30,000 structures.
"The government has not given us any tents. We have only
received noodles from them... I really hope that the government
will come with aid.
"We are all weak, but we try not to feel it because we do
not have any choice," he added.
On the village outskirts, Partini sat on the wreckage of
her destroyed house feeding chicken and rice to her 7-year-old
"Yesterday a car just suddenly came and they gave us food.
But you cannot predict these things ... I'm saving the food
because you don't know when the next car will give you food."
But elsewhere navy cadets dug through rubble helping a
family search for clothes and valuables that survived the
The government has set aside relief funds of 100 billion
rupiah ($10.86 million) for the next three months. A year of
reconstruction and rehabilitation will begin after August,
costing the government 1.1 trillion rupiah.
(Additional reporting by Lewa Pardomuan, Michelle Nichols,
Tomi Soetjipto and Harry Suhartono)