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Tsunami disaster – countries in crisis

Emergency treatment for hundreds injured in Indonesia quake

© UNICEF video
A child waits for medical treatment on the island of Nias.

By Jane O'Brien

NEW YORK, 4 April 2005 - Up to 1,000 people are now feared dead in the earthquake that hit the Indonesian island of Nias last week. More than 500 bodies have been recovered from the rubble of collapsed buildings and the search is continuing for others still missing.

UNICEF is coordinating medical treatment for survivors and at least 286 patients have been evacuated from the island to hospitals on neighbouring Sumatra. Routine health services on Nias are virtually non-existent because local health workers fear further earthquakes and are staying away from work.

Ten emergency centres have been set up around the main centre of Gunung Sitoli and UNICEF is working with its partners to reopen the hospital.

“Aid is coming in,” says UNICEF Health Officer Scott Whoolery. “There have been difficulties but we have managed to bring it in from Medan and Banda Aceh. We have water equipment arriving along with medical supplies which will be distributed throughout the area.”

© UNICEF Nias/Estay/2005
A UNICEF water treatment tank arrives on Nias where the earthquake has caused severe water shortages.

Conditions on the island continue to hamper the relief effort. Main roads and bridges have been destroyed and the airport is only open to a few light aircraft. The earthquake damaged many water pipelines; shortages in Gunung Sitoli are being alleviated by a UNICEF water treatment plant. A second unit is being installed at Teluk Dalam in the south of the island.

UNICEF is also assessing the needs of orphanages. At the Al Wasliyah Orphanage in Gunung Sitoli, supplies were low and the situation was becoming desperate.

“They haven’t received food for days and days now,” says UNICEF Child Protection Officer Frederic Sizaret. “We have tried to distribute what we can in terms of food, shelter and water. We are waiting for additional supplies.”

Around 15,000 families are homeless but UNICEF staff say there are no reports of children being separated from their families. A child centre has opened and the situation is being monitored. One of the biggest concerns is the trauma experienced by the islanders – especially children and women. Some schools could reopen in the next two weeks and they will provide a focal point for counselling and support.




4 April 2005:
UNICEF aid for sick and injured in Nias

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