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International Relief Slow to Reach Java

Foreign leaders have sent emergency teams and promised financial aid to Indonesia after Java was devastated by an earthquake that killed thousands of people. Germany has earmarked 500,000 euros.


Tens of thousands have been left homeless

After the earthquake on the Indonesian island of Java claimed over 5,000 lives, international aid organizations have called for donations and begun assembling emergency aid teams.

Aid has been slower than some on the ground wished, but the international community has rallied to help, promising tens of millions of euros and offering medical relief teams, disaster experts and emergency supplies.

While the European Union said it aimed to provide up to 3 million euros ($3.82 million), Germany has pledged 500,000 euros and the International Red Cross hopes to collect some 7,7 million euros in donations.

"Germany is following events on the island of Java with shock and compassion," wrote Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in a condolence letter to his Indonesian counterpart Hassan Wirajuda on Saturday. "Please let us know how we can help your country in practical terms."

Hampering the rescue work

Erdbeben Insel Java Indonesien Militärpersonal mit Hilfsgütern auf dem Flughafen in Jakarta

Aid is arriving, but slowly

Indonesia struggled Monday to cope with the scale of its earthquake disaster as aid began to trickle in for thousands of injured and homeless survivors facing a difficult third night in the open.

As the death toll from Saturday's quake passed 5,100, foreign rescue teams and international aid workers fanned out across the quake zone in central Java, distributing much-needed food, water, tents and tarpaulins.

But ongoing power cuts hampered rescue work, and fresh rains as night fell spelled more misery for some 200,000 people made homeless by the disaster. Some of them expressed anger that help was not reaching them more quickly.

On the roads to Bantul, the district hardest-hit by the 6.3-magnitude quake, and to Yogyakarta, desperate people clutched signs reading "please give aid" and held out buckets to collect money from passers-by.

Another sign read "Where is the pemkot?," or local government.

Aid slow to arrive

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono

Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who visited quake survivors on Monday, acknowledged aid was slow to arrive.

"We have to manage this well. I ask the local governments to be more diligent and more active," he said.

His government declared a three-month state of emergency in the zone, where wooden beams from collapsed houses stuck up like toothpicks, and broken ceiling tiles and bricks littered the ground.

Survivors -- too terrified to return home as hundreds of aftershocks rattled the region -- hung out washing on lines strung between trees, or spread what little clothing they had left on blue tarpaulins they used for shelter.

Adding to their fear, Mount Merapi -- a volcano north of the quake's epicenter -- became increasingly active Monday, belching clouds of hot gas and ash as lava trails ran down its slopes.

Vice President Yusuf Kalla said the government had allocated $8 million for emergency aid.

The relief effort got a much-needed boost as Yogyakarta's damaged airport was reopened, allowing humanitarian aid flights to arrive.

More international rescuers landed in the devastated region, including a 20-strong search and rescue team from Taiwan and an 87-member Malaysian rescue team which headed out of Bantul in a convoy.

A serious situation

Erdbeben in Indonesien

Hospitals are overwhelmed

Hospitals overwhelmed with five times their normal patient load begged for more medical staff and supplies to treat the thousands of injured overflowing from their wards, raising fears of the spread of disease.

"Waste management in the hospitals is now critical. There is human waste everywhere. The situation is quite serious," said UNICEF spokesman John Budd.

Medical teams from around the world began flying into Java on Monday in response to the appeal, with Australia and Japan sending doctors and nurses in addition to large cash donations.

Paris-based aid charity Medecins sans Frontieres has deployed a surgical team in the quake zone.

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