Churches manage to ship supplies to earthquake zone - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
March 31, 2005

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Churches manage to ship supplies to earthquake zone


Despite difficult conditions members of the global alliance Action by Churches Together (ACT) International in Indonesia have begun to send shipments of relief supplies, in response to the powerful earthquake that struck on Monday off the west coast of the country.

However, access to the island of Nias, hardest hit by the quake, is still difficult reports the alliance, as is transportation on the island.

YAKKUM Emergency Unit (YEU) has prepared a shipment of relief items that arrived in Sibolga yesterday.

The shipment is now being sent by boat on a nine-hour voyage to the port of Gunungsitoli on Nias's east coast. The supplies in the shipment include 20 boxes of medical supplies, medical equipment, food, tents, bathing kits, women's sanitary supplies and two generator units.

A YEU medical team has also been providing services for 520 patients in eight locations in Gunungsitoli.

The team expects two motor bikes and other equipment for its operation to arrive from Medan in the coming days, which will enable it to be more mobile.

Yayasan Tanggul Bencana (YTB) was expected to purchase relief supplies in Sibolga and deliver them to Nias by helicopter as soon as one became available. If one is not available, the supplies will be sent to Nias by boat.

YTB's partner, BPB Nias, has provided three tents for displaced people staying at the Institute of Theology in Gunungsitoli. Two YTB staff members have arrived in Gunungsitoli and are helping to evacuate survivors of the quake.

Church World Service Indonesia (CWS) has prepared 35 boxes of medicines, 14 boxes of gloves, 500 tents and 1,000 packages of non-food items at the ACT warehouse in Medan. These supplies are being sent to Nias on a U.N. helicopter along with a water-purification unit and other related equipment prepared by CWS and Norwegian Church Aid, another ACT member. Two CWS staff members will also be sent to Nias to assess the needs of survivors.

The ACT coordination office in Jakarta, which was set up following the December 26 tsunami, reports that 85 percent of buildings in Gunungsitoli were damaged. It is estimated that more than 300 people in Gunungsitoli died and that more than 500 people on the entire island of Nias have died.

The ACT office in Jakarta also reports that people forced from their homes are staying in at least ten different locations on Nias. It is reported that damage and casualties occurred in other areas of Aceh and North Sumatera. Banyak Island and Aceh Singkil were hit severely.

The army, police and survivors are still trying to evacuate people from under the ruins of buildings and houses. This is made harder as there is no heavy lifting equipment available. It is estimated that there are still 1,000 people, dead or alive, trapped under ruins. Smaller earthquakes are still occurring every few hours, which is hampering the evacuation efforts.

In Gunungsitoli, electricity and land-line telephones are totally out. Some cellular phones can be used, but there is no electricity to recharge them. The food and drinking-water supply is very low, and no stores or markets are open, with most stores having sustained damage. Food and other supplies can be purchased in Sibolga (North Sumatera) but at higher prices than normal.

The Nias airport is now functioning again, but only for small planes. There are still no regular flights or ferries to Nias. Traveling on the roads between the major sites on Nias is easiest by motor bike, but gasoline is scarce.

On Tuesday, the ACT Coordinating Office in Geneva approved the allocation of 500,000 US dollars to relief efforts related to the latest disaster.

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