Aceh quake: More than 45,000 made homeless

PHOTO: Reuters

Rescuers and aid workers were "working shoulder to shoulder" to help victims of the 6.5-magnitude quake in Indonesia's western Aceh province as the number of homeless swelled to more than 45,000.

Nearly 4,000 rescuers from the police, military and government agencies were involved in the "emergency response" in the three affected regencies of Pidie Jaya, Pidie and Bireuen, National Disaster Management Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a statement yesterday.

In an update, he said 45,329 people have been displaced - 1,716 in Bireuen and another 43,613 in worst- hit Pidie Jaya, or more than a quarter of its 151,472 residents.

The temblor that struck last Wednesday also left 101 people dead, mostly from buildings collapsing on them. Another 857 were injured. Nearly 12,000 homes, shophouses, mosques and schools were also damaged, as well as 14.8km of roads and 55 bridges, he added.

Dr Sutopo said despite damage to roads and bridges, no areas were isolated, adding: "Community activities have returned to normal."\

Aceh has declared a state of emergency, and Social Affairs Minister Khofifah Indar Parawansa said yesterday that the government was considering extending the emergency-response period until Dec 29.

The extension would allow the government to identify which buildings were damaged and needed reconstruction.

Search and rescue operations are expected to continue and meetings to coordinate relief efforts by various government bodies and aid agencies are also under way.

Dr Sutopo said aid workers have been tasked to manage four areas: provision of clean water and sanitation, evacuation, psycho-social protection and security. A warehouse for storage and logistics is also being set up in Pidie Jaya.

About 4.7 million people live and work in Aceh, the westernmost point of the Indonesian archipelago which is particularly quake-prone.

The Dec 26, 2004 tsunami left more than 230,000 people dead from Indonesia, especially Aceh, to other countries including Sri Lanka, Thailand and India.

Indonesia's meteorology, climatology and geophysics agency (BMKG) has recorded 69 aftershocks following Wednesday's quake, said Dr Sutopo, but they are weakening.

"Everyone must move quickly to handle the impact of the quake," he said. "We encourage people to remain vigilant."

This article was first published on Dec 11, 2016.
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