- The Washington Times - Monday, May 29, 2006

BANTUL, Indonesia — Emergency aid began arriving yesterday in areas devastated by a magnitude 6.3 earthquake in Indonesia, but officials said supplies were not being delivered fast enough to victims who begged for help on roads lined with crumpled buildings.

The government’s Social Affairs Ministry raised the official death toll to 5,427. The new number includes bodies buried in mass graves immediately after the quake.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it had sent a field hospital and distributed about 2,000 tents, with up to 8,000 more on the way.

The United Nations sent three trucks carrying high-energy biscuits and a plane loaded with water, tents, stoves and cooking gear.

Two Singapore military cargo planes arrived at Yogyakarta airport with doctors and medical supplies.

Japan said it would dispatch land, sea and air forces to help with relief efforts.

But officials said supplies remain inadequate.

“We have received food and medicine from the government, but it’s not enough,” said Suparno, a neighborhood official in the hardest-hit district of Bantul on Java island who goes by one name, like many Indonesians. “How can I distribute [90 pounds] of rice to 1,200 people?”

Indonesia said late Sunday that it would allocate $107 million to help rebuild over the next year.

The United States has allocated $2.5 million in aid, and the U.S. military plans to send 100 doctors, nurses and medical technicians from a base in Okinawa to Indonesia, U.S. Pacific Command spokesman Lt. Col. Bill Bigelow said Sunday.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has released $100,000 in emergency aid but said it will need to give much more.

U.N. humanitarian chief Jan Egeland has proposed boosting relief efforts with money from the United Nations’ $178 million central emergency relief fund.

U.N. officials in Indonesia said the most urgent needs were for generators, tents, three 100-bed field hospitals and medical supplies, mostly for treating broken limbs. Officials said they hoped to meet these requirements within three days.

France said yesterday that it would send medical equipment and personnel. Spain was to send 12 tons of tents, blankets and medicines and other aid, and Germany said aid groups were moving water-purification equipment and a mobile medical clinic to Java.

Britain, the European Union, China and the Japanese Red Cross Society together have given, or pledged to give, more than $14 million.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono — criticized by some as being hesitant to act in the past — spent the first night after Saturday’s quake sleeping in a tent along with survivors and moved his office to the nearby city of Yogyakarta to supervise relief operations.


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