June 25, 2006

Indonesia drops relief supplies in flood-hit area

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesian helicopters dropped relief
supplies on Sunday to thousands of victims of flooding and
landslides on eastern Sulawesi island, officials said.

Some 10,000 people have been displaced following two days
of torrential rain at the start of the week that flattened
homes and turned swathes of land into vast lakes of water.

Rescue teams have been cutting through mud from landslides
or left behind by the floods in their search for 65 people
still missing in South Sulawesi province. More than 200 people
were killed.

But many affected areas remain inaccessible as roads and
bridges have been damaged, hampering relief and rescue efforts.

"We continue distributing aid such as food, blankets and
tents to the affected areas. We have distributed four times by
air and sent five trucks by land," said Lutfi Hidayat,
logistics coordinator in the worst-hit Sinjai regency.

"The evacuation process still continues but no victims have
been found since this morning. But rescue teams are still
combing the land." Mohammad Yuslim, an official at the disaster
management office in the provincial capital, Makassar, said the
death toll was 217 with Sinjai accounting for 202 deaths.

Aid workers have set up public kitchens and the government
has sent medicines, blankets and sarongs, but clean drinking
water has been a problem as some wells are filled with flood
waters and mud.

Sulawesi is resource-rich, with numerous mining operations,
but they have not been hit because they are far from the
affected areas.

Tropical downpours and resulting floods and landslides are
relatively common in Indonesia.