Indonesia Quake Survivors Face New Dangers

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Living conditions are still makeshift for earthquake survivors in Indonesia. The government is still having difficulties getting emergency supplies to those that need them, and the volcano Mount Merapi continues to spew lava and hot gas. Lina Sofiani, an emergency officer with UNICEF in Indonesia, speaks with Liane Hansen.


In Indonesia, one week after an earthquake killed more than 6,000 people and left more than half a million people homeless, the Associated Press reports that many of the survivors are living in makeshift shelters with no running water or toilets. But government officials are quoted as saying today that no additional foreign medical assistance is needed and that relief efforts should now focus on reconstruction.

Lina Sofiani, an emergency officer with UNICEF, joins us on the line from Jakarta, Indonesia. Welcome to the program, Lina.

Ms. LINA SOFIANI (Emergency Officer, UNICEF): Thank you very much.

HANSEN: Would you elaborate, please, on the living situation on the ground for the survivors of the earthquake? What's it like for them?

Ms. SOFIANI: Well, it is very difficult because most of them want to live as close as possible to their house or where were their houses.

HANSEN: What is the situation with medical help? Are the emergency medical facilities fully functioning?

Ms. SOFIANI: Well, according to the government, they already received enough support in terms of field hospital. If I'm not mistaken, there are already six field hospitals provided by different countries. And now it is more into the reconstruction. For example, also the water issue and then latrine and emergency (unintelligible) like that.

HANSEN: What about food? Are food supplies getting in?

Ms. SOFIANI: Food supplies getting in, but then it is also the problem of distribution because we are talking not only about the accessible area but also those in a very difficult area to reach. So we receive different news from, beside that, in several places, food not distributed evenly because of transportation problem.

HANSEN: What about the volcano? You know, Mount Merapi continues to spew its gasses and its lava. Are there any evacuations from the area, fear that the volcano might actually erupt?

Ms. SOFIANI: Well, actually, two days ago, two villages were evacuated because of the increasing activity of the volcano. This is the two villages in Magdalan(ph), which is part of the central Java area. So this is not (unintelligible) but on the other side.

Now of course it is not easy for the government to cope with both situations, but I hope that more organizations will not only be concentrating on helping the victims of the quake, but also this is what we call the emergency preparedness. I mean we don't know what will happen in the next two or three days, for example. But it seems that difficult (unintelligible) at the moment.

HANSEN: UNICEF Emergency Officer Lina Sofiani spoke with us from Jakarta, Indonesia. Lina, thank you very much for your time.

Ms. SOFIANI: Thank you very much.

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