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UN humanitarian chief ends visit to Indonesia as death toll from quake tops 1,100

UN humanitarian chief ends visit to Indonesia as death toll from quake tops 1,100

A child sits alone amid the ruins of a collapsed building in Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia
Humanitarian Aid

The official death toll from last month’s earthquake that struck the Indonesian island of Sumatra has climbed to 1,117, including those still missing, the United Nations humanitarian arm reported today as its chief wrapped up a two-day mission to the site of the destruction.

Under-Secretary-General for the Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) John Holmes met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, donors and the head of the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB), as well as humanitarian agencies before leaving area.

The 7.9-magnitude Indian Ocean earthquake on 30 September left 198,200 households in need of emergency shelter, according to initial assessments by OCHA.

In the coming weeks, international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) plan to reach around 62,000 of those households with distributions of emergency shelters, and at least 16,000 tents and tarpaulins have been distributed to date. Further shelter will depend upon additional funding.

Last week the humanitarian community, in close consultation with the Government, launched a $38 million humanitarian response plan, identifying acute needs to be addressed within 90 days and identifying 74 projects.

OCHA said that Padang City, Pariaman and Agam, the three most affected areas, have been struck by extensive damage to water and sanitation infrastructure, leaving more than 50,000 people requiring assistance.

In addition around 190,000 people are suffering from serious shortages of staple foods, such as rice. WFP is providing fortified biscuits to children under five years old and to pregnant and lactating women and has started a school feeding programme.

Almost 1,000 schools have been damaged and an estimated 90,000 students are reported to be in urgent need of teaching materials. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has distributed 228 school tents, 80 school-in-a-box kits and 80 recreational kits.

The BNPB has requested a shift in emergency relief aid to the neighbouring disaster-affected area of Jambi province, which was hit by another earthquake on 5 October. Around 500 houses, 11 schools and 2 health facilities in Kerinci district were damaged by that tremor, and over 100 houses and 123 schools in Merangin district were also damaged.