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Indonesia: Aid for quake-hit island

14-11-2002 News Release 02/46

An earthquake registering 5.5 on the Richter scale shook troubled Aceh province in northern Sumatra on 2 November. Damage was mainly centred on the remote island of Simeulue off the west coast.

Thanks to the extensive branch network of the Indonesian Red Cross, which reaches all parts of the vast archipelago making up the country, a joint team from that organization and the ICRC was quickly able to come to the aid of local people. Local volunteers and ICRC staff from the sub-delegation in Banda Aceh provided medical aid, assessed the situation and began distributing relief supplies within three days of the event. In all, the operation lasted 10 days.

An estimated 5,000 people fled their homes in fear of a tidal wave that sometimes results from earthquakes. After a few days they returned to their villages and the Red Cross team distributed much-needed shelter material (tarpaulins), household items (cooking pots, jerrycans, mats, candles, etc.) and hygiene articles (soap, toothpaste, etc.) to some 200 of the neediest families. This work was particularly challenging in the central part of the island, where damaged roads and bridges cut off traffic for days.