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Last Updated: Monday, 10 January, 2005, 08:39 GMT
Aid flows help Aceh recovery
Two men shovel out the muddy mess from a house two weeks after a tsunami hit the city of Meulaboh.
Many communities have been wiped out
Two weeks after being ravaged by a massive earthquake and tsunami, signs of some normality are returning to Indonesia's worst-hit Aceh province.

In the devastated town of Meulaboh, aid is getting through, some shops opened and a clear-up is in full swing.

A convoy of lorries set off from the Indonesian capital Jakarta with aid for Aceh residents some 2,500km away.

Aid operations were briefly disrupted on Monday when a US Navy helicopter crashed near the provincial capital.

At least two of the 10 people on board were injured when the SH-60 Seahawk came down near Banda Aceh airport.

The crash came amid heightened alert among relief workers following a shooting incident near United Nations offices in Banda Aceh on Sunday, initially blamed on Muslim separatists fighting for Aceh's independence.

The volume of international relief aid that has come into Jakarta has simply overwhelmed the air corridor... and the need there is great [that] we had to include overland convoys as well
Bill Hyde
International Organisation for Migration
On Monday, however, Indonesian authorities tried to reassure the world that security measures were in place to protect humanitarian workers.

More than 150,000 people died from the 26 December tsunami across the area from Indonesia to Somalia in Africa, mostly in Aceh province. Many more are missing.

    In other developments:

  • Thai authorities say they will take DNA samples from every corpse recovered - some will be unearthed - because visual identification on some Asians has been unreliable

  • The UN's children's agency Unicef says it is rushing vaccines to Aceh's west coast after confirming a case of measles there

  • Schools open in Sri Lanka for the first time since the disaster

  • US Secretary of State Colin Powell says he will call for long-term US aid to the Indian Ocean region.

Fresh produce

Much of Meulaboh remains a disaster area, but a bustle of activity was visible with relief-laden helicopters landing and lifting off every minute or so on Monday morning.

Near the coast, the destruction is terrible, but further into town, some shops are open and fresh produce is for sale, the BBC's Jonny Dymond reports from Meulaboh.

US Navy Seahawk helicopter that crashed in a rice paddy near Banda Aceh's airport
US helicopters are vital to get supplies to inaccessible areas
Diggers are operating all around town, clearing rubble and wood from outside the concrete structures still standing.

The flow of people into the town's main hospital has slowed and aid workers say medical supplies are getting through.

With the small Banda Aceh airport running at full capacity, 11 lorries sent by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) began the long road journey from Jakarta carrying some 40 metric tons of aid - used clothing, medicines and shelter materials.

"The volume of international relief aid that has come into Jakarta has simply overwhelmed the air corridor... and the need there is great [that] we had to include overland convoys as well," IOM's co-ordinator in Indonesia, Bill Hyde, said.

The journey will take at least two days, but given the volume of supplies needed for reconstruction in Aceh, this is likely to be the first of many such trips, says the BBC's Jonathan Kent in Jakarta.

Province on the north-western tip of Sumatra
Higher percentage of Muslims than other parts of Indonesia
Gam rebels have fought decades-long separatist campaign
Year-long military crackdown beginning in May 2003 weakened Gam, but failed to capture senior members

The authorities in Aceh opened schools on Monday in an effort to restore some normality to shocked schoolchildren who have lost many of their friends.

The government said 420 schools had been destroyed and 1,000 teachers killed in Aceh province.

The US helicopter crashed into a rice paddy about 500m from Banda Aceh airport.

The navy described the crash as a "hard landing", ruling out fears it had been shot down.

After Sunday's gunfire at UN headquarters in Banda Aceh, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said: "The security operation conducted by Indonesia's military and police will protect, secure the humanitarian efforts."

There was confusion over who was behind the shooting, with some officials blaming Free Aceh Movement (Gam) separatists, others saying a disturbed government soldier fired the shots. No one was hurt.

Violent waves sweep through an Aceh street



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