At a glance: Indonesia

Emergency aid sent to quake survivors in West Sumatra, Indonesia

UNICEF Image
© Reuters/Dadang Tri
A boy looks at the wreckage of a house in Sumani, Solok, in Indonesia’s West Sumatra Province, where a strong earthquake and powerful aftershock hit on 6 March.

By Suzanna Dayne

JAKARTA, Indonesia, 7 March 2007 – UNICEF is sending in truckloads of emergency supplies to victims of Tuesday’s quake in the Indonesian province of West Sumatra.

The 6.3. trembler shook the provincial capital Padang and surrounding towns, killing at least 71 people. Nearly 200 were injured, most of them seriously. A second jolt struck the same area just two hours later.

The quake caused panic in coastal areas amid fears of a tsunami. Thousands of people are spending the night in makeshift camps to avoid the danger of severe aftershocks. Electricity and phone lines have been knocked out, and local hospitals have been inundated with patients.

The day after the quake, relatives mourned loved ones at the first of what was sure to be a string of funerals in these close-knit communities. Local media reports say disaster teams are searching for victims in remote areas where heavy equipment cannot get through. Survivors also sifted through the rubble looking for their belongings.

Getting supplies in quickly

A UNICEF assessment team led by Project Officer Raoul de Torcy is on the ground and has met with the Governor of West Sumatra and senior officials. Officials estimate that some 7,500 people have been displaced by the quake and 3,500 buildings have been destroyed or damaged.

UNICEF also met with officials in Solok District, one of the worst affected areas. There, local authorities say 44 schools were damaged and 15 destroyed. According to initial reports, at least two students were killed when their school collapsed.

UNICEF Image
© Reuters/Dadang Tri
Residents camp outside in Sumani after an earthquake rocked Sumatra island.

UNICEF received a request for water bladders and school tents in the area, and will also be sending in hygiene kits, cooking sets and jerry cans for carrying potable water. “Based on the discussion with local government officials, we have sent over emergency supplies from our warehouse in Medan, Northern Sumatra,” said UNICEF Emergency Officer Lina Sofiani.

Trucks filled with the supplies are due to arrive in West Sumatra on Thursday. However, the road from Padang to Solok has been damaged, possibly hampering the delivery.

National response

In the capital, Jakarta, UNICEF met with senior government officials to discuss the national response to this latest quake disaster.

“We talked about ways to coordinate efforts to ensure that supplies get to the affected areas quickly, so families can begin to piece together their lives,” said Ms. Sofiani.

The country is still reeling from the May 2006 earthquake that killed thousands in Central Java. Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago, is prone to earthquakes because it is located on the so-called ‘Ring of Fire’, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.


 

 

Video

7 March 2007:
UNICEF Emergency Officer Lina Sofiani talks about the initial response to the earthquake in Sumatra, Indonesia.
 VIDEO  high | low

8 March 2007:
UNICEF correspondent Elizabeth Kiem reports on the latest brush with disaster for children and families in Indonesia.
 VIDEO  high | low

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