09/04/2009, 00.00
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Quake in Java: number of victims rises, many areas are still isolated

by Mathias Hariyadi
The toll stands at 57 dead, but there are still dozens of missing people. President Susilo, visiting Cianjur, had to walk two kilometers to reach the stricken city, because of damage to roads. The Catholic Church is launching a subscription. Parishes in the areas affected by the quake, the meeting place of volunteers and rescue teams become aid hubs.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The rescue teams continue to dig through the rubble of towns affected by the earthquake measuring 7.3 that struck the island of Java, but their work is hampered by destroyed roads and weather. The Catholic Church has launched fund-raising and parishes in the area of the earthquake have become makeshift shelters.

The death toll has risen to 57, but it is destined to increase because in Cianjur, the hardest hit city, there are still dozens of people missing and a huge landslide has invaded and toppled entire neighbourhoods.

At least 40 people were missing in the village of Cikangkareng, perhaps buried under a landslide. Police, rescue workers and residents also dug with bare hands in search of victims, since it is difficult to get heavy machinery to the area because of poor roads.

Currently there are 21 victims in Cinajur; 10 in Garut, Sukabumi 2; 9 in Tasikmalaya, central Bandung 8: 1 in Bandung west; 4 to Ciamis, 2 in Bogor. In the latter at least 700 homes were seriously damaged. At least 110 people were hospitalized and 10 of them are in critical condition.

In Cinajur and Tasikmalaya there are thousands of homeless, many are gathered in makeshift tents, but others live in the open, waiting for shelter.

The President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his wife Ani yesterday visited the city of Cianjur, along with other government personalities. The delegation had to walk two kilometers to reach the destroyed parts, which remain isolated.

The president donated 5 billion rupees (approximately 345 thousand euros) to local authorities for emergency assistance.

Indonesian bishops, through the organization Karina, distributed aid and sent health workers to various cities affected by the earthquake, in Bandung, Cianjur, Tasikmalaya, Cilacap in Central Java and Bogor. At the same time they opened a national subscription to support the victims of the earthquake.

Secretary General of Karina, Fr. Sigit Pramuji, has also warned that many areas are still isolated. Among these, there is the island of Nusakambangan, where three days after the quake rescue teams are still unable to make contact or bring aid.

Some parishes in the earthquake zone serve as distribution centres for emergency aid: noodles, mineral water, tents. But it is difficult to supply them because of destroyed roads. Fr. Nicholas Nindy Agus told AsiaNews that "it takes at least 3 hours to reach the parish in the south of Garut - one of the most damaged. Meanwhile, we endeavoured to do something for the earthquake victims. Our parishioners have collected clothes, food and money. "

The parish priest of the Sacred Heart in Tasikmalaya has transformed his parish into a relief center, the meeting point for emergency crews and volunteers from Karina who are studying ways to bring food and tents to the families of victims and the homeless.

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