Drinking water, relief supplies rushed to Aceh

Search and rescue operations are still the main focus for many in Aceh. Over 2,000 rescuers, with the help of volunteers and local residents, have been working non-stop since the 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck the province on Wednesday.
Search and rescue operations are still the main focus for many in Aceh. Over 2,000 rescuers, with the help of volunteers and local residents, have been working non-stop since the 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck the province on Wednesday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

But residents worry about long-term water supply as pumps and wells are damaged

The Indonesian military (TNI) and rescue agencies were rushing clean, drinking water by air and land, to Aceh yesterday, after water supply to homes was disrupted by a devastating earthquake in the province on Wednesday.

Bottled water and other relief supplies such as food, tents, medicine and mobile power generators have been arriving in quake-affected areas since the day of the disaster.

But some residents had expressed concerns over their long-term water supply.

This is because most families in Aceh rely on electrical pumps and wells for water.

The 6.5-magnitude quake had either brought down power lines, cutting off electricity for the pumps, or rendered wells unusable due to contamination or blockage from building rubble.

Besides cartons of bottled water, the Ministry of Public Works has deployed key relief items such as four water tanks, 70 public hydrants and 80 mobile toilets, said the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) yesterday. Nine water trucks have also been travelling between shelters since yesterday as rescue efforts stretched into day three.

  • 100

    Latest death toll from the earthquake that hit Aceh on Wednesday, according to BNPB

  • 724

    Number of those injured and being treated in hospitals

  • 23,237

    Number of displaced people, who left their homes mostly over fears that their houses will collapse in the aftershocks

"The President has instructed that all in the shelters and tents must be provided with everything they need," said Dr Sutopo Nugroho, who heads the data and information division at the BNPB. "But search and rescue operations are still ongoing and remains our focus up till now."

More than 2,000 rescuers, comprising TNI troops, policemen, BNPB officers and personnel from search and rescue agency Basarnas, with help from volunteers from aid groups and local residents, have been working non-stop since Wednesday.

Many were still focused on locating survivors or retrieving bodies buried under the rubble.

In its update yesterday, the BNPB said there are now 100 confirmed dead, while 724 were injured and being treated in hospitals in different parts of Aceh.

While the death and injury toll is not expected to rise much higher as most residents have been accounted for, the number of displaced people has continued to rise.

 
 
 

The BNPB said there are now 23,237 displaced people, mostly because they decided to abandon their houses over fears that these may collapse due to aftershocks.

More than 10,500 buildings, including homes, schools and mosques, had been damaged or have collapsed since the quake struck.

Housewife Khatijah Ismail, 48, who lives in Pidie Jaya regency, one of the worst-hit areas in Aceh, was one of those who chose to live in relief shelters for the time being, even though her house suffered only light damage.

"We are still worried because the earthquake felt so strong, so we moved to this shelter, but we will return home later. We just wanted to stay here for a couple of days," she told The Straits Times yesterday.

"There is abundant food here, and there a lot of people who come and donate food to us."

The Asean Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Centre) said yesterday that the Public Works Ministry will conduct a survey on how many buildings are in need of repairs, such as schools and places of worship.

And although almost 15km of roads and over 50 bridges were damaged, repairs are being conducted rapidly, it said in a statement.

"In solidarity and in the spirit of 'One Asean One Response', BNPB accepted the offer of assistance from AHA Centre, deploying relief items from the Disaster Emergency Logistic System of Asean stockpile."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 10, 2016, with the headline 'Drinking water, relief supplies rushed to Aceh'. Print Edition | Subscribe