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The BBC's Richard Galpin
"Many more people survived than expected"
 real 28k

Friday, 9 June, 2000, 12:42 GMT 13:42 UK
Sumatra begins rebuilding
Quake survivors start rebuiling their lives
Survivors of the earthquake on Sumatra island have begun rebuilding their shattered homes as protests continued over the Indonesian government's handling of the disaster.

Top Indonesian politicians said the quake could be classed as a national catastrophe and urged the government to speed up relief efforts.

Injured child in tent
The injured are treated in makeshift shelters

Residents in Bengkulu province salvaged wood, bricks and glass from the ruins of their houses on Friday. Others stood on street corners begging for cash donations.

Many people are still sleeping outside, fearful of aftershocks following Sunday's quake which measured 7.9 on the Richter scale.

Seismologists said there were 100 aftershocks on Thursday, including a massive 6.2 magnitude jolt which sent screaming residents fleeing from buildings.

Some residents staged an angry protest afterwards, saying the government had been too slow to provide relief.

But local officials in Bengkulu insisted on Friday that aid distribution had finally picked up.


Sunday's quake killed 120 people, injured 1,300 others and left at least 25,000 homeless.

Local press reports said 13 of the victims had died of their injuries in hospital.

Children shelter under a table
Fearful children shelter under a table

The state news agency Antara reported that about 100 casualties were being treated in makeshift tents on the grounds of Muhammad Yunus hospital, which was destroyed by the quake

"You can imagine how cold it is there. Sick people are becoming sicker," one doctor said.


The government has appealed for international help and officials say relief workers have now reached all parts of the province.

But parliamentary speaker Akbar Tandjung said the government needed to move quicker.

Large crack in road
Many roads need major repairs

"The government has to be more responsive," Mr Tandjung was quoted saying in the Republika newspaper.

"Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri also should see for herself [the situation] because this disaster can be classified as a national catastrophe," he added.

But a provincial government spokesman said relief flows had gathered pace on Friday and there had been no further protests.


Many foreign countries have pledged assistance, but relief efforts have been hampered by heavy rain, damaged roads and severed communications.

A Japanese medical team arrived on Friday and began replacing the dilapidated tents that have been providing shelter for patients at Benkulu's wrecked hospital.

Medical supplies worth more than $58,000 were also handed over by Switzerland on Friday and Canada announced a $100,000 relief package.


Antara said preliminary damage estimates were around $6m, but officials have yet to assess the full impact of the quake.

About 80% of homes need rebuilding from scratch in some areas of Bengkulu, according to a United Nations team which is in the region.

Provincial secretary Hasanul Arisin said the government would help people build simple, temporary houses.

But he added: "They are going to have to pay for rebuilding permanent houses themselves. We don't have the money. We need help from overseas."

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See also:

08 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
New quake hits Sumatra
06 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Sumatra quake
05 Jun 00 | Sci/Tech
Sumatra: Caught between two plates
04 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
Quake kills 16 in Indonesia
30 Mar 00 | Sci/Tech
The Earth's Ring of Fire
30 Nov 98 | Asia-Pacific
Quake rocks Indonesian islands
08 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Eyewitness: Simple houses save lives
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