Tag Archives: disaster management

Indonesian quake leaves 46 dead, dozens missing

Indonesia Earthquake

Indonesian quake leaves 46 dead, dozens missing

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CIKANGKARENG, Indonesia – Rescuers dug through rocks and debris with their bare hands Thursday in search of dozens of villagers believed buried in a landslide triggered by a strong Indonesian earthquake that killed at least 46 people and damaged thousands of buildings.

At least 110 people were hospitalized with injuries from the 7.0 magnitude quake just off the coast of densely populated Java island, Disaster Management Agency spokesman Priyadi Kardono said, adding that 10 were in critical condition.

The earthquake Wednesday afternoon caused destruction across West Java province, where more than 18,300 homes and offices were listed as damaged, around 9,000 of them seriously, Kardono said. At least 5,300 people were forced into temporary shelters, he said.

Some rural areas could not be reached by telephone and there may be more victims and damage, officials said. Many of the deaths and injuries were caused by falling debris or collapsed walls and roofs.

In the village of Cikangkareng in Cianjur district, a landslide buried a row of homes under tons of rock and mud. At least 13 bodies were recovered and villagers were searching for dozens of people believed missing, Kardono said.

“Everything is gone, my wife, my old father-in-law and my house … now I just hope to find the bodies of my family,” farmer Ahmad Suhana, 34, said as he pried at giant stones with a crowbar.

Heavy digging equipment had not reached the remote village, which President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was to visit later Thursday. Police, military personnel and villagers used their hands. Maskana Sumitra, a district administrator, said 11 houses and a mosque were buried by the landslide and estimated that more than 50 people were trapped and feared dead.

“The chance of survival is so slim … but we have to find them,” Sumitra said.

The prolonged shaking from the quake was felt hundreds of miles (kilometers) away on the neighboring resort island of Bali. In the capital, Jakarta, 125 miles (190 kilometers) north, thousands of panicked office workers flooded out of swaying skyscrapers onto the streets, some of them screaming.

The Disaster Management Agency said at least 46 people were confirmed dead. Dede Kurniati said her 9-year-old son was playing at a friend’s house when the earthquake struck and is now “buried under the rocks.”

“I lost my son … now I just want to see his body, I want to bury my lovely son properly,” she said, weeping.

Hospitals in towns and cities across West Java province quickly filled with scores of injured people, most of them with broken bones and cuts. A tsunami warning was issued after the quake struck at mid afternoon but was lifted an hour later. Several dozen aftershocks were measured by geological agencies.

Indonesia, a vast archipelago, straddles continental plates and is prone to seismic activity along what is known as the Pacific Ring of Fire. A huge quake off western Indonesia caused a powerful tsunami in December 2004 that killed about 230,000 people in a dozen countries, half of them in Aceh province.

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Tamil death toll ‘is 1,400 a week’ at Manik Farm camp in Sri Lanka

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Tamil death toll ‘is 1,400 a week’ at Manik Farm camp in Sri Lanka

About 1,400 people are dying every week at the giant Manik Farm internment camp set up in Sri Lanka to detain Tamil refugees from the nation’s bloody civil war, senior international aid sources have told The Times.

The death toll will add to concerns that the Sri Lankan Government has failed to halt a humanitarian catastrophe after announcing victory over the Tamil Tiger terrorist organisation in May. It may also lend credence to allegations that the Government, which has termed the internment sites “welfare villages”, has actually constructed concentration camps to house 300,000 people.

Mangala Samaraweera, the former Foreign Minister and now an opposition MP, said: “There are allegations that the Government is attempting to change the ethnic balance of the area. Influential people close to the Government have argued for such a solution.”

News of the death rate came as the International Committee of the Red Cross revealed that it had been asked to scale down its operations by the Sri Lankan authorities, which insist that they have the situation under control.

Mahinda Samarasinghe, the Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights, said: “The challenges now are different. Manning entry and exit points and handling dead bodies, transport of patients, in the post-conflict era are no longer needed.”

Last night, the Red Cross was closing two offices. One of these is in Trincomalee, which had helped to provide medical care to about 30,000 injured civilians evacuated by sea from the conflict zone in the north east.

The other is in Batticaloa, where the Red Cross had been providing “protection services”. This involves following up allegations of abductions and extrajudicial killings, practices that human rights organisations say have become recurring motifs of the Sri Lankan Government.

The Manik Farm camp was set up to house the largest number of the 300,000 mainly Tamil civilians forced to flee the northeast as army forces mounted a brutal offensive against the Tigers, who had been fighting for an ethnic Tamil homeland for 26 years.

Aid workers and the British Government have warned that conditions at the site are inadequate. Most of the deaths are the result of water-borne diseases, particularly diarrhoea, a senior relief worker said on condition of anonymity.

Witness testimonies obtained by The Times in May described long queues for food and inadequate water supplies inside Manik Farm. Women, children and the elderly were shoved aside in the scramble for supplies. Aid agencies are being given only intermittent access to the camp. The Red Cross was not being allowed in yesterday.

Experts suggest that President Rajapaksa, the country’s leader, is yet to make good his victory pledge to reach out to the minority Tamil community. “The discourse used by the Government is of traitors and patriots,” Paikiasothy Saravanamuthu, of the Centre for Policy Alternatives, a Sri Lankan analyst, said. “There is no indication that this mode of thinking is slipping.”

Mr Rajapaksa is known for not tolerating dissent; a trait that human rights organisations say was demonstrated this week when five Sri Lankan doctors who witnessed the bloody climax of the country’s civil war and made claims of mass civilian deaths recanted much of their testimony.

The doctors said at a press conference on Wednesday that they had deliberately overestimated the civilian casualties. As government officials looked on, they claimed that Tigers had forced them to lie.

The five men added that only up to 750 civilians were killed between January and mid-May in the final battles of the war. They were then taken back to prison, where they have been held for the past two months for allegedly spreading Tiger propaganda.

The number was far below the 7,000 fatalities estimated by the United Nations. An investigation by The Times uncovered evidence that more than 20,000 civilians were killed, mostly by the army.

The doctors denied other former testimony, including the government shelling of a conflict-zone hospital in February for which there are witnesses from the UN and the Red Cross.

The statements met with scepticism from human rights campaigners. Sam Zarifi, the Asia- Pacific director for Amnesty International, said that they were “expected and predicted”. He added: “There are very significant grounds to question whether these statements were voluntary, and they raise serious concerns whether the doctors were subjected to ill-treatment.”

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Floods kill 200 in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh

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Floods kill 200 in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh

BANGALORE (Reuters) – Floods triggered by heavy rains have killed at least 200 people in the past five days in southern India, destroyed standing crops and left tens of thousands of people homeless, officials said on Sunday.

At least 167 people have been killed in Karnataka, where several rivers burst their mud embankments following heavy rains and swept away houses.

“There is death and destruction all around us,” Basavaraj Bommai, a senior government minister said in Bangalore, the capital of the southern state, which is also an IT hub.

Authorities said vast areas of agricultural land, including sugarcane and paddy fields were under water in the state.

“The crop loss estimate is being ascertained… Our top priority is to provide relief to thousands of homeless people,” the state’s Home (Interior) Minister V.S.Acharya said on Sunday.

Acharya said most of the victims died in house collapses or were swept away by the flood waters.

More than 100,000 people were homeless and television pictures showed hundreds of people waving at helicopters carrying relief materials from rooftops. Some were seen clinging on to tree branches.

In the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh, at least 33 people have died and more than 1.8 million people have been affected by the floods, officials said.

The trading and cotton-growing town of Kurnool, which is dotted with ancient forts was the worst affected, where 15 people have died in the past two days and thousands affected, officials said.

“We have evacuated 40,000 people in Kurnool town alone,” said Dinesh Kumar, a senior disaster management official said in Hyderabad, the capital of Andhra Pradesh state.

Officials said the death toll could increase as 5,000 people were still trapped in flood-hit remote areas, and rescuers were yet to reach many villages.

Almost 1,000 people have been killed by severe flooding in India this year, while tens of thousands more have lost their homes and seen large swathes of their farmland devastated, according to the Red Cross.

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