World

More doctors, medicine needed: Officials

Hopes of finding more survivors fade a day after Aceh quake

BANDAR ACEH: Hundreds of earthquake survivors from six villages have taken refuge at a mosque in Aceh's Meurah Dua district.

The shelter's coordinator, Mr Ramli M. Nafi, told The Jakarta Post that several houses were severely damaged, but no fatalities had occurred in the six villages in the district.

"We are staying here because my village is in poor condition. Water comes out from the cracked ground," Mr Ramli was quoted as saying by kompas.com, referring to a common post-earthquake phenomenon known as liquefaction.

Thus far, the evacuees have received 10 sacks of rice and five boxes of instant noodles, he said.

But the villagers are yet to receive any medical assistance as of Wednesday evening.

A resident said they needed more solid food like fresh or salted fish.

The villagers were worried about the water coming out of the cracked ground because they thought it was a sign of an oncoming tsunami.

Meanwhile, aftershocks rattled the survivors of the earthquake that killed more than 100 people, as officials urgently appealed yesterday for medicine and doctors to treat the hundreds who were injured.

The shallow 6.5-magnitude quake levelled hundreds of homes, mosques and businesses across Aceh province, one of the areas worst affected by the devastating 2004 tsunami.

Search and rescue crews using advanced life-detecting devices have been combing the rubble for any sign of movement, as hopes fade of finding any more survivors more than a day after the quake.

The death toll stands at 102 but is expected to rise, national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

The figure has fluctuated as authorities identify the dead across the region.

Thousands of soldiers and emergency personnel have been using excavators to clear rubble in the worst-hit areas, with volunteers - equipped with little more than hoes and their bare hands - also chipping in.

PRAYERS

President Joko Widodo asked all Indonesians to pray for their countrymen in the disaster-stricken province.

"Aceh is not alone," he posted on his official Twitter account.

But attention is shifting to caring for the injured and homeless.

The army has established kitchens, shelters and a field hospital in the hard-hit town of Meureudu, Aceh military chief Tatang Sulaiman told AFP.

"Our priority today is to re-check all the buildings to ensure no more victims are trapped, and to help the refugees," he said.

Medical supplies and other essentials are lacking, officials said, with the region's ill-equipped hospitals overwhelmed.

More than 700 people were injured in the quake, many seriously, according to the disaster agency.

Mulyadi, the deputy chief of the worst-hit Pidie Jaya district, said they were in desperate need of medicine and extra hands to treat the injured.

"We need surgeons and orthopaedics, because many victims have fractures," he told AFP.

Most victims spent the night outdoors, either unable to return to their homes or terrified of the aftershocks rattling the region, he added. - THE JAKARTA POST, AFP

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