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Quakes Survivors Start Rebuilding Process

Indonesian earthquake survivors salvaged bricks and planks from the remains of their flattened homes Friday, the slow beginning of a reconstruction process in a country already struggling to rebuild a
( [email protected] ) Jun 02, 2006 10:12 AM EDT

BANTUL, Indonesia (AP) - Indonesian earthquake survivors salvaged bricks and planks from the remains of their flattened homes Friday, the slow beginning of a reconstruction process in a country already struggling to rebuild after the Asian tsunami.

Nearly a week after the earthquake that killed more than 6,200 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless, aid was beginning to pour in.

But relief teams have yet to reach some remote areas, and delivery of aid is sporadic in others. About 135,000 houses were completely destroyed by the magnitude-6.3 quake, and most survivors are sleeping under plastic tarps or in thin tents.

In Telan village in hardest-hit Bantul district, three families were crowded under one tarp.

"We are poor people. If we don't work hard, how can we survive?" asked one resident, Soliman, as he and his wife salvaged bricks, tiles and wooden posts so they could start to rebuild.

Nearly every house in the village was flattened by the quake, and five people died.

Passing motorists have donated some food, but little aid has been received from the government or international relief workers, villagers said.

U.N. spokeswoman Amanda Pitt said food, medicine, water and tents were getting to most areas.

"Generally speaking, things are improving," she said.

With nearly 650,000 people displaced by the May 27 earthquake, the United Nations said the relief effort was likely to continue for up to six months, after which the focus would shift to recovery.

"The height of the emergency phase will continue for another one to two weeks and will definitely be completed within one month after this," said Charlie Higgins, head of U.N. relief operations. "But this doesn't mean that relief will stop. Relief will continue for a number of months."

Conditions improved Friday in Bantul's main hospital, where U.S. Marines and Singaporean medical teams joined scores of Indonesian doctors from other areas of the country.

The Marines took some patients to a mobile U.S. field hospital, where 130 patients were treated Thursday, including six surgeries.

Volunteers cleaned up piles of rubbish at the Bantul hospital, which has treated thousands of patients since the quake.

Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla said there was no need for more doctors and nurses.

"From now on, the government decided to stop receiving more foreign medical personnel to help the survivors," the state-run Antara news agency quoted him as saying Thursday.

Instead, foreign countries should provide money to help rebuild homes, he said.

At least 6,234 people were killed by the quake, according to the Social Affairs Ministry.

About 131,000 people were killed in Indonesia by the 2004 tsunami, triggered by an earthquake off Aceh province.

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