First MSF team arrives at Sumatra earthquake region

quake region

Following the earthquake on Sunday June 4 in Sumatra, that measured 7.9 on the Richter Scale, MSF is now present in the field conducting a needs assessment. An MSF team consisting of two expats - one doctor and water and sanitation (watsan) expert arrived in Bengkulu early this morning.

The main affected areas are the south of the province and the islands off the coast of Bengkulu - in particular the island of Enggano. However, forecasts from the meteorological dept do not yet indicate that the situation is stable.

Over 117 people have died as a result of the earthquake. Most were crushed by falling debris while they slept. Hundreds have been injured and thousands are reported homeless.

Initial response to the earthquake is underway by the Indonesian Navy who have helped with the critical victims. This has allowed for international assistance to be directed more towards the aftermath of the crisis. However relief efforts are being hampered by heavy rains and flooding.

Foreign aid has started to arrive and the first flights of emergency materials arrived today.

MSF, unable to discover if the airport was available for transport, sent a team by car overland for 18 hours to the affected region. Although the roads were often damaged, it was possible to drive to Bengkulu.

MSF leaves for Enggano

The MSF team will leave tonight (June 7) for Enggano and assess the area, as reports are that the entire population of some 1,700 to 2,000 people have lost all their infrastructure and services.

Bengkulu city has been clearly affected by the quake, however immediate
observations noted houses cracked, some destroyed and others still
standing. Those families that had to flee their homes have, where
possible, sought shelter with relatives whose homes are
still intact.

Many people are very traumatized by the event and are afraid to
re-enter their homes, even if they are still structurally sound. Some
are camped on the roadside under quickly prepared shelters and prefer
to sleep there rather than inside a building.

The hospital of Bengkulu is damaged and now has water and sanitation problems
due to the quake. Several large structures have also suffered
severe damage. Only a part of the hospital is safe to bed patients.
In other parts of the building, the patients have been relocated to
other areas both inside and outside the hospital.

In overview, the city
still seems to be able to continue running even with the recent
crisis.

Several international agencies are already in Bengkulu with limited
equipment and materials. Some clinical tents have been set up but more
are needed outside the hospital to treat some of the caseload. Most cases are for fractures, abrasions, cuts and traumatized victims.

Two additional MSF staff will arrive on Friday when commercial flights are scheduled to restart. This will bring the on-site staff to a contingent of four.


Map courtesy of BBC World Service

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BBC June 7, 2000 - Fears over quake island