Staff, supplies and food only - MSF helicopters loaded to capacity on every flight
4 January 2005
MSF is using helicopters here to gain faster access to the population. Small teams are dispatched to the west of Banda Aceh as well as to the east as far as Sigli, some 200kms away. These helicopter flights are running at their load capacity with every flight with key medical staff and supplies only on board. Once staff and medical supplies are loaded, the rest of the capacity is filled with rice. Staff are kept to the essential as every person on board means 80kgs of rice cannot be taken. Teams already on the ground are being increased on an almost daily basis and, within the week, plans are to have 45 expat staff and another 125 local personnel working at the emergency. From nearby Calang, MSF took two people back to Banda Aceh in their helicopter for hospitalization: one is a 14-year old girl with an acute open arm wound, the other a man of 45 with a hole in his chest. Medical consultations in Cot Keung, Banda Aceh, also continued, with two teams providing 184 consultations. Faced with a lack of clean water, the MSF water and sanitation team has set up a five cubic metre water bladder to provide for a population of 1,700 in the Depkes Building in Cik Di Tiro (Banda Aceh). A disinfection station opened January 3. An assessment team has also been dispatched to villages east of Banda Aceh. In the district of Sigli, there are around 12,000 people displaced and local organisations are providing medical care. The lower part of Sigli has been completely destroyed. The team also went to Batee, west of Sigli, when there are serious concerns about the state of water supply and sanitation.Ã? The team also managed to land in Meulahoh where there are around 5,000 displaced, 100 of them required surgery for wounds. In general, there are still wounded in most villages. The town of Banda Aceh has had about 60% of the village destroyed. Corpses still remain in the streets of Banda Aceh. MSF has provided 447 body bags to the Indonesian soldiers and civilian volunteers who have been dealing with this particular task for almost a week. MSF is going to install disinfection points for these workers. Teams have seen many mass graves and, although there has been no official count, estimates are that there are between 10,000-15,000 in the village alone. The main hospital is filled with graves and has been closed. The local military hospital now serves as the public hospital for the population. A maternal hospital has also been adapted to provide additional care. Staff have already returned, by helicopter, to Lhok Timon on the west coast, some 200 kms from Banda Aceh. Here only 1,270 people from a village that used to number 3,200 are still alive. They are living on coconuts and bananas and are eating their remaining livestock in order to have food. Unfortunately, due to the lack of lighters and matches to start fires, many people have been unable to cook their meat properly. The result is that diarrhea is one of the three main pathologies being treated by MSF medical teams. Wounds and respiratory tract infections are also common. As in the previous days, MSF has been providing psychosocial trauma counseling to help people cope with their loss and anxiety. Sri Lanka In Sri Lanka, transport remains a key issue in providing assistance. Many of the coastal roads are blocked with debris from the tsunami or simply destroyed. Rail tracks in some areas have been destroyed. There are 38 expat staff already working on the ground and another 36 staff are being dispatched to the country. Hospitals have been severely affected. Galle hospital, a key medical provider, is amongst them. In Galle region, as well as Matara and Hambantota, the tsunami reached 200-300m inland Three MSF kits with sufficient supplies to set up hospitals have sent and the total of material being provided at present by cargo shipment is over 120 tonnes. More material is being brought locally and additional cargo flights are being planned to bring in more supplies. MSF teams are exploring eastern Sri Lanka where the organisation had worked previously and so has local knowledge and contacts. MSF teams are conducting aerial explorations by helicopter as the roads are unusable in the region. Teams are investigating the region south of Batticaloa. In the Ampara district, with had a population of 500,000 people, the situation is chaotic and the main hospitals have been destroyed. Displacement is severe and the people are widely scattered, finding shelter in churches and schools. MSF is focusing on getting three hospitals functioning again. Meanwhile MSF has eight mobile clinics in service since December 29 and is increasing its capacity in other facilities. In addition to medical treatment, MSF teams are conducting epidemiological surveys as well as water and sanitation for 60 settlements. One out patient department has been established in Tangalla on the south coast plus small teams will be set up to bring aid to different locations in the area.