Survivors left destitute

GENEVA: Survivors in the razed Indonesian town of Meulaboh, one of the closest to last week's earthquake, have been left destitute, Red Cross officials who have reached the scene said yesterday. 

“Survivors have nothing”, said Caroline Dunn, a health expert at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. 

“Shelter, food, clean water and medicine are all lacking,” she said, quoted in a Red Cross statement. 

Meulaboh, on the west coast of the province of Aceh, was virtually razed to the ground in the Dec 26 earthquake measuring 9.0 on the Richter Scale. 

“The humanitarian needs in Meulaboh are massive. Many of the bodies buried under collapsed buildings are now starting to get to an advanced stage of decomposition,” Dunn added. 

The Indonesian health ministry has said at least 10,200 people were killed in and around Meulaboh, a town which had a population of some 40,000 and lay about 240km from the provincial capital of Banda Aceh. 

A Japanese Red Cross team arrived on Saturday by helicopter, but the town is likely to be cut off for about three weeks after the roads were destroyed in the quake. 

The first Indonesian boat only arrived on Wednesday, three days after the quake struck, and the first food was handed out on Friday.  

The Red Cross team has now begun to distribute medicines, and a helicopter was due to fly in supplies for 30,000 people from the town of Medan on the eastern Sumatran coast. – AFP  

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