Indonesia: Natural disasters prompt belated international aid

Updated On: Oct 05, 2009

Four days after a devastating earthquake hit West Sumatra province in Indonesia, survivors say little or no humanitarian assistance has reached them, although international aid agencies say that help is on the way.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Australia has sent a warship carrying a full medical team while France dispatched two aircraft carrying humanitarian assistance experts and 25 tonnes of relief supplies, while teams from Japan and Germany have also up mobile clinics outside Padang. A 54-member medical team from Singapore, including surgeons, anaesthetists, medics and nurses, is setting up a facility in the coastal town of Pariaman, north west of Padang.

The United States pledged more than 3.3 million US dollars in aid and President Barack Obama said he was "deeply moved" by the disaster in the country where he spent part of his childhood.

The European Union, which has donated 3.0 million euros (4.4 million US dollars) has a team on the ground which is assessing how to distribute funds, spokeswoman Malini Morzaria said.

New Zealand is giving $600,000 to help quake-struck Indonesia and a further $400,000 to assist Southeast Asian countries hit by a typhoon.


Channel News Asia, Foreign aid pours into quake-hit Indonesia, 4 Oct 2009,

The National Business Review, NZ to give $600,000 to Indonesia after quake, 5 Oct 2009, http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/nz-give-600000-indonesia-after-quake-112357

Radio New Zealand, $1 million relief contribution by NZ to Indonesia and others, 5 Oct 2009, http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/stories/2009/10/05/1245cd39132d

IRIN News, INDONESIA: Aid slow to arrive after quake, 4 Oct 2009, http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=86425

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