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Tsunami#4 Aceh « Previous | |Next »
January 1, 2005

Aceh has borne the brunt of the devastation from the undersea earthquake 160 miles south of Banda Aceh and the huge tsunami it triggered on Sunday. Around 80,000 people are now recorded as perishing in Aceh province. The number of dead victims in Aceh and North Sumatra are expected to reach 100,000. Between one and three million of those affected by the tsunami in Aceh and North Sumatra are homeless.

Basically all the villages on the coastal line are completely gone.In some coastal towns there is nothing, as even the foundations of the houses have disappeared. Entire swaths of coastline are reduced to sprawling rubbish dumps.

NewsTsunami6. jpg.jpg
Reuters, Satellite images show Aceh on northern Sumatra, Indonesia before and after the tsunami hit on Sunday.

More satellite images of Banda Aceh before and after the tsunami can be found at junk for code and many more over at Digital Globe.

The coastal town of Meulaboh in Sumatra has been destroyed whilst Banda Aceh, the provincal capital, is a wrecked city.

As the Jarkata Post says:

"The entire southern part of Indonesia, starting from Sumatra, Java, Bali, Nusa Tenggara to Maluku and Papua and also the northeastern part of the country -- Sulawesi and North Maluku -- constitute active seismo-tectonic regions. Potential volcanic dangers exist at places along these lines.....movements on the bed of the Indian Ocean can cause tension on either side of the fault line. If the accumulation of tension and energy at the sides of the tectonic lithospheric plates or the subduction zone becomes unbearable, more fresh earthquakes may occur."

Sunday's quake in Sumatra has increased the chances for more major earthquakes there.

Aceh has become a focus point. People will judge whether the new government of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, can really deliver by what happens in Aceh. At the moment the Indonesian government is being rightly criticized. Four days after the tsunami struck, only 60 volunteers from the government had been deployed, bodies are still strewn all over the city and there was an acute food shortage.

From what I can make out relief supplies sent from national and foreign organizations and governments are reaching the Banda Aceh airport. In fact, supplies are piling up there. But they are not being distributed quickly to the intended targets.

According to Doctors without Borders the population of Aceh has received no international humanitarian aid at all since the disaster struck four days ago. They are the first international organization to begin working in the area.

Why the delays and disorganization in Aceh?

The politics explains some of the inaction. Aceh is a region long caught up in armed rebellion against Jakarta's oppressive authority that is justified by a strident nationalism that has been unwilling to recognize regional differences in the nation state.

This political conflict has meant that the Indonesian government initially kept the international community at bay as it debated whether to open Aceh up to foreigners. The province had been almost entirely closed to any international presence due to military operations there.

Consequently, the Indonesian government's response has been slow and uncoordinated. This is the reaction of the Indonesian press to the disaster in Aceh.

Breaking news can be found at the The SEA-EAT blog,the Wilkinews and

Video streams can be viewed at Cheese and Crackers.

For accounts of what is happening in India see Kiruba Shankar, who is blogging from Chennai in India at KirubaShankar. For Malaysia see KTemoc at Bolehtalk and Jeff Ooio over at Screenshots.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 7:08 AM | | Comments (0)