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Indonesia: UN in areas hit by earthquake & tsunami

UN teams travel to areas hit by earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia as death toll mounts

United Nations aid teams joined Indonesian Government and non-governmental efforts in assisting survivors on the island of Java today after an earthquake killed at least 37 people, with 60 more missing after a tsunami triggered by the quake hit the coast.

Indonesia’s Meteorology and Geophysics Agency recorded an earthquake of 6.8 on the Richter scale at 15:19 local time in southern Java, followed by several aftershocks, according to a situation report from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

“Reports of casualties and damages varied, but the number continued to increase. The latest media reports put the figure of dead people at 37. The earthquakes were felt in Jakarta city, Bandung city, Ciamis and Cianjur, and Tasikmalaya districts in West Java and in Surabaya city, East Java.”

“A Tsunami, generated by the earthquake, was observed in Pangandaran, Ciamis District, and in Cilacap and Kebumen districts, Central Java,” OCHA said, adding that 60 people were missing and houses and cars along Pangandaran beach had been swept away by waves as high as five metres.

A local Indonesian hospital has sent a medical team and ambulances to the affected areas, the Indonesian Red Cross has deployed volunteers to help out, while the Ministry of Health is responding to the emergency with the help of the World Health Organization (WHO), according to the dispatch, which also outlines international assistance.

“Two teams are being sent to the affected areas, one from Yogyakarta and the other one from Jakarta. The former is going to Central Java and includes staff from OCHA, Oxfam GB and Indonesian Red Cross. The latter is going to West Java and includes staff from OCHA, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP), and WHO.”

An earthquake in May that also hit Java killed more than 5,000 people and injured more than 8,000, while parts of the country are still recovering from an earthquake off Indonesia’s Sumatra island in December 2004 that caused a devastating tsunami which killed more than 230,000 people and affected more than 12 countries in Asia.

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