Indonesia’s Aceh province earthquake leaves at least 45,000 homeless

The Associated Press

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Indonesia’s Aceh quake — An elderly woman is assisted to a temporary shelter for people affected by Wednesday’s earthquake in Ulim, Aceh. Photo: AP


At least 45,000 people have been displaced by the powerful earthquake that hit Indonesia’s Aceh province, authorities said on Saturday, as the government and aid agencies pooled efforts to meet the basic survival needs of shaken communities.

The estimate of the number of homeless people continues to grow while relief efforts fan out across the three districts near the epicentre of Wednesday’s magnitude 6.5 quake, National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told a press conference.

“The basic needs of refugees must be met during the evacuation,” the agency said in statement.

Humanitarian groups are now coordinating their efforts from a main command post in the worst affected district Pidie Jaya, the agency said.

 An Acehnese woman holds her child in panic after an aftershock with a 5.0 magnitude hit Pidie Jaya. Photo: EPA

More than 700 people were injured in the quake, many seriously, according to the country’s disaster agency. And more than 11,000 buildings, mostly homes but also several hundred mosques and schools have been destroyed or damaged. The displaced are staying in temporary shelters and mosques or with relatives.

Most of the displaced spent the night outdoors in tents near their ruined homes as hundreds refused to move into shelters fearing aftershocks, Nugroho added.

On Saturday, sniffer dogs were again used in the search for bodies and possible survivors in the devastated town of Meureudu, where a market filled with shop houses was largely flattened. Four other locations in Pidie Jaya are also the focus of search efforts.

 An Indonesian rescue team uses an excavator to search for victims under a collapsed building. Photo: EPA

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo travelled on Friday to worst-hit areas of the province and promised to rebuild communities.

Australia’s government said on Saturday it will provide A$1 million (US$750,000) of humanitarian aid through the Indonesian Red Cross.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Australia is ready to respond to additional requests for assistance from the Indonesian government.

The archipelago nation experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity due to its position on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, where tectonic plates collide.

 Survivors queues for food at an evacuation centre days after an earthquake in Meureudu. Photo: EPA

A huge undersea earthquake in 2004 triggered a tsunami that engulfed several countries around the Indian Ocean, killing more than 170,000 people in Indonesia alone, the vast majority in Aceh.

The province lies on the northern tip of Sumatra island, which is particularly prone to quakes.

In June a 6.5-magnitude quake struck off the west of Sumatra, damaging scores of buildings and injuring eight people.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse


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