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    » 05/30/2006, 00.00

    INDONESIA

    Newborns, children, most forgotten victims of Java quake

    Mathias Hariyadi

    Aid is arriving slowly: milk and clothes for child survivors are lacking. Tents available are still very few: survivors are sleeping under the trees in graveyards, along roads in makeshift shelters or in animal sheds.

    Yogyakarta (AsiaNews) – Children in the quake-hit areas are "victims" of aid that fails to respond to their needs. The allegation was made by survivors of the strong quake that shook the area south of Yogyakarta – Indonesia's ancient royal city – on 27 May. According to the Social Affairs Ministry in Jakarta, the death toll has climbed to 5,427. National and international aid teams and agencies have mobilized; they are gradually reaching stricken areas, but their efforts do not appear to suffice.

    Mrs Suseno, a resident of Pesu – sub-district of Wedi, Klaten – said: "Children are hungry and suffering from cold and respiratory trouble." She said most food supplies and clothes were unsuitable for children. "Babies need milk, baby food and clothes to fit them," she said. Eye witnesses told of desperate children begging for food from passers-by. Right now, money is the most pressing need. A resident of Jetis, Bantul regency, shares this view:  "My children need clothes; they have been wearing the same top for three days."

    Tents are also lacking in quake-hit areas: latest official figures speak of 200,000 homeless people and more than 15,000 collapsed buildings in Bantul, Klaten, Sleman, Yogyakarta, Kulonprogo and Gunung Kidul. Displaced people are forced to seek shelter from the sun under trees in cemeteries. Others choose to sleep alongside main roads under makeshift "roofs" made of torn materials. Some say they have resorted to cowsheds to shelter from the rain.

    Fr Drajad Soesilo, a Jesuit, arrived in Gantiwarno to deliver aid collected in his parish of Danan. "Here, the situation is desolate: Survivors are seeking to stay alive by any means, they eat whatever they find and drink rain water." Agung Nugroho, a teacher in Jakarta originally from Gantiwarno, returned home after hearing about the tragedy. "We cannot do anything else other than to welcome with open arms whatever aid comes. Daily life is very tough now, and even those who were well off before have nothing."

    The anguish of survivors is fed by the state of the Merapi volcano: around 70km from the epicenter of the 27 May quake, it became more active yesterday after a few days of respite.

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    See also

    03/06/2006 INDONESIA
    Java quake: aftershock sparks panic among people

    There were tremors of magnitude 4 during the night. Survivors fear another disaster and the eruption of the Merapi volcano.



    05/06/2006 INDONESIA
    Java: Starting from scratch after quake

    AsiaNews visited the areas hardest hit by the 27 May quake in Java: Wedi, Gantiwarno and Bayat in Klaten regency. Here are the stories of survivors, who search among the ruins for items of value, and who are paralyzed by terror. The tragedy has led to previously unheard-of trends, like begging and heavy vehicle traffic.



    22/07/2006 INDONESIA
    Tsunami alert still high, warn experts

    Sunda Strait near Jakarta, just shaken by a strong tremor, is at the centre of attention, but so far it has been spared by freak waves. President Susilo visited Cilacap and promised to have a new anti-tsunami alert system in place by 2008.



    18/07/2006 INDONESIA
    More than 260 people killed by tsunami

    The crisis centre at Indonesia's health ministry said around 290 people were injured and 125 missing. This information is provisional: rescue workers fear many more people may be buried under the rubble left in the wake of the two-metre wave that struck Java yesterday.



    28/05/2006 INDONESIA
    Fund raising and outdoor masses for Java Catholics

    Despite the tragic situation, parishioners in the area destroyed by the quake went to mass to respond to the invitation of the pope to "pray for victims, their families and survivors". Functions were held outdoors for fear that more buildings may collapse.





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