Sharp increase in Indonesian toll - BBC
- Sharp increase in Indonesian toll
Indonesia has announced a sharp rise in its death toll
from Sunday's earthquake and sea surges, as
information from remote areas becomes available.
The government now says that 79,940 people died as a
result of the quake and the tsunamis it triggered.
Relief workers have finally got to some remote areas
on the west coast of Sumatra, near the quake's
But many other areas are still out of reach, and there
are fears the death toll is likely to rise still
After four days without contact, aid workers have
finally reached Meulaboh, one of the largest towns on
the western coast - and the closest to the
Arriving by ship, the rescue teams gave out much
needed supplies in the town, most of which is thought
to have been virtually flattened by Sunday's
earthquake and subsequent sea surges.
Emil Agostiono, a spokesman for the Indonesian
Ministry of People's Welfare, said he estimated that
about 10,000 people had died in Meulaboh alone.
But told the BBC that there were still problems in
getting aid to the people in the west coast region,
adding that it would take about a month to restore
Helicopters are attempting to fly in relief supplies,
but so far they have been unable to land in many areas
due to the floods.
There are thought to be only two helicopters available
for use in the whole of Aceh, and rescue workers are
citing this as a major factor holding up the relief
"There are just simply not enough helicopters to get
to the affected areas," admitted Dr Mulya Hasmi, the
head of the health department in Aceh.
Even in the more accessible Banda Aceh, the capital of
Aceh province on the northern tip of Sumatra,
survivors are still desperately short of basics such
as clean drinking-water.
A BBC correspondent in the city, Andrew Harding, says
the logistics for distributing aid are extremely
There is only one small airport, petrol is scarce and
key coastal roads have been blocked where the tsunamis
took out bridges.
Meanwhile, in the region's hospitals, staff have been
overwhelmed by the numbers of dead and injured.
Infection is already said to be spreading in the
Health experts are warning that - in all the countries
affected by Sunday's disaster - outbreaks of diseases
such as malaria and cholera could prove as deadly as
the effects of the earthquake, unless preventative
measures are taken as soon as possible.
But the sheer scale of the disaster is proving too
much for local officials to cope with.
"Aceh's health system is not able to cope because
Acehnese medical staff are either dead, or too
traumatised to work because they have lost family
members," Dr Hasmi told the BBC.
On the streets of Banda Aceh, thousands of Indonesian
troops have been drafted in to help clear the rotting
With little ceremony, rescuers are using bulldozers to
dig mass graves and bury the thousands of corpses.
But they are still not working fast enough, and bodies
continue to litter the streets, according to our
Despite clearing the river of corpses on Wednesday,
thousands more had washed into the city with the tide
by Thursday morning, he added.
The humanitarian disaster in Aceh is complicated by
the continuing separatist conflict in the province.
On Thursday, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono called on separatist rebels to lay down
their arms and help re-build the region.
Both sides declared a ceasefire after Sunday's
earthquake, but some rebels have remained active in
Aceh despite the devastation.
President Yudhoyono said the hope for Aceh was to
build a future with the rest of Indonesia.
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