Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
An injured woman receives medical attention at a US field hospital in Padang.
An injured woman receives medical attention at a US field hospital in Padang.

US troops increase Indonesia quake relief

The US military increases aid to victims of a deadly earthquake that made hundreds of thousands homeless in Sumatra.

PADANG, INDONESIA // The US military is increasing aid to victims of a deadly earthquake that made hundreds of thousands homeless on Sumatra island - its largest relief operation in Indonesia since the 2004 tsunami. Two Navy ships were expected to arrive today or tomorrow, along with a USAID flight with 50 tonnes of emergency relief, said US Rear Admiral Richard Landolt. He said a supply ship has also been cleared to begin operations with four helicopters large enough to carry 30-40 people or equipment to areas that cannot be reached by land.

The expansion of the US mission, with as many as 600 troops, comes as efforts shift from the search for survivors to providing relief to villages that have been cut off by massive landslides generated by last Wednesday's magnitude-7.6 quake. Villagers are complaining of a lack of assistance even as aid workers from at least 20 countries descend on West Sumatra. The homeless are huddling in makeshift shelters and cook meagre meals of rice and noodles over open fires or eat vegetables from their fields.

Many villages were swept away by landslides in remote hilly terrain to the north of the regional capital, Padang. Roads were severed or so badly damaged that they are only passable on foot or motorbike. In all, about 180,000 buildings were severely damaged or flattened in the quake, including almost 90,000 homes, Indonesia's Disaster Management Agency said. The official death toll stands at 704 and officials said it could reach into the thousands.

It is the worst natural disaster to hit Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation, since a quake in the central Javanese city of Yogyakarta killed about 6,000 in May 2006. That followed the 2004 tsunami which killed 230,000 in a dozen countries, roughly half in Indonesia's Aceh province. US military played a major role in the multinational relief effort for tsunami victims - an intervention that improved America's standing in the region at a time of negative perceptions following the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Rear Admiral Landolt, who arrived yesterday, said the Navy ships were full of supplies, food and heavy equipment that can be used to clear roads and excavate collapsed buildings. *AP

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greeted by university students as he leaves Sistan University in Sistan and Baluchestan’s provincial capital of Zahedan on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

In Iran’s most troubled province, Rouhani hears pleas for change

Hassan Rounani aims to connect with residents of far-flung Sistan and Baluchestan province.

 Prince Bandar bin Sultan in Riyadh on March 3, 2007. Hassan Ammar / AFP Photo

Saudi Prince Bandar promised a victory he could not deliver

Saudi Arabia's controversial intelligence chief stepped down this week after rumours that his policies on Syria had fallen out of favour.

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greets supporters after his arrival in Zahedan, the regional capital of Sistan and Baluchestan province on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. During Mr Rouhani's two-day visit, he will tour several other cities and hold meetings with local scholars and entrepreneurs. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

On the road with Hassan Rouhani

Iran's president is touring some of Iran's most underdeveloped provinces. Foreign correspondent Yeganeh Salehi is traveling with him.

 Twitter photo of  Abdel Fattah El Sisi on the campaign trail on March 30. Photo courtesy-Twitter/@SisiCampaign

El Sisi rides a bicycle, kicks off social media storm

The photos and video created a huge buzz across social media networks, possibly a marker of a new era for Egypt.

 Friday is UN Mine Awareness Day and Omer Hassan, who does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan, is doing all he can to teach people about the dangers posed by landmines. Louise Redvers for The National

A landmine nearly ended Omer’s life but he now works to end the threat of mines in Iraq

Omer Hassan does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan and only has to show people his mangled leg to underscore the danger of mines. With the world marking UN Mine Awareness Day on Friday, his work is as important as ever as Iraq is one of the most mine-affected countries in the world.

 Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish spiritual leader Fethullah Gulen. AFP Photo

The inner workings of Gulen’s ‘parallel state’

Fethullah Gulen's followers are accused of trying to push Turkey's prime minister from power.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National