UN officials arrive in quake-hit Indonesian province to launch aid effort

9 February 2004

United Nations officials have arrived in Indonesia’s Papua province to help local officials deal with the aftermath of a series of severe earthquakes which killed over 30 people.

A team from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reached the town of Nabire yesterday to begin assessing the level of damages and the needs of the local population.

The first earthquake, which measured between 6.8 and 6.9 on the Richter scale, struck on Friday just seven kilometers to the east of Nabire in the eastern-most province of the Indonesian archipelago.

A second earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.1, struck on Saturday 73 kilometres southwest of Nabire. There have been further aftershocks, with one today measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale.

The quakes have taken out all electricity and telecommunications in the area and damaged many buildings, according to OCHA. The airport is reduced to accepting only light aircraft.

OCHA added that Indonesian officials have already removed debris and established temporary shelters for the quake victims. The priority relief tasks now include providing blood for transfusions and installing small power generators.

 

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