Thu, Jun 01, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Survivors vent anger at relief efforts


Indonesian soldiers evacuate patients while carrying them in their bed in the Dlingo subdistrict at Gunung Kidul in Yogyakarta yesterday.


Indonesia defended the earthquake relief effort yesterday as angry survivors pleaded for help and aid agencies said many victims lacked medical care and water four days after the disaster.

Supplies from nations around the world began to reach the tens of thousands of people left homeless and hungry by the quake, but problems with distribution continued to dog the massive operation, agencies said.

"The logistical bottlenecks are in the field," said Puji Pujiono, deputy area coordinator for UN operations in the quake zone.

"Calls for assistance are increasing every day, but they may not be met by the system as fast as one would like," he said.

Sukiman, 48, a truck driver hired to deliver relief supplies, said many people were still in need of the basics.

"A lot of them are still complaining ... they need some food and tents for the short term," said Sukiman, who lives in hard-hit Bantul district south of the royal city of Yogyakarta.

"There are so many victims, I cannot reach them all," he said.

In some places, residents were sleeping in the open with only clothing and tents made of rice bags to protect them.

"There are a lot of traumatized people and there is not much to eat," said Sutikno, 32.

Indonesian officials defended the relief operation as President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono left after a four-day tour of the quake zone.

"The situation is getting better and better, especially in the area of distribution," said Major General Bambang Darmono, the coordinating officer on the ground for the national disaster management agency.

"Every area has been reached by the distribution effort," he said.

"I know there are a lot of people complaining but it doesn't mean there is no activity," he added.

Welfare Minister Aburizal Bakrie said Indonesia would start handing out cash -- 3,000 rupiah (US$0.33) to each homeless survivor per day -- rather than food aid, saying it would be more practical.

"There are good and bad survivors. Sometimes in one place, the food is all snatched up by a few and some do not get any," he said.

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