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Earthquake Victims in Indonesian Villages Need Help to Rebuild


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The full extent of the damage caused by the earthquake that struck the Indonesian Island of Sumatra is still being assessed. In the city of Padang the collapse of a number of tall buildings caused a large number of casualties but many other buildings were still intact. This VOA correspondent traveled to some small villages to the North where few people were killed but damage to houses was massive.

Earthquake victims throughout the affected areas of Southwest Sumatra are sorting through the collapsed remains of their homes and their lives, and wondering what to do next.

The taller buildings that collapsed in the city of Padang will almost certainly be rebuilt. Large businesses and public organizations have the resources, the labor force or overriding social need to make reconstruction a priority.

For the poor, the future is not so certain.

In some farming villages in the nearby district of Pariaman hundreds died when landslides caused by the quake buried the houses and those within.

In other villages few have died or have been severely injured. At an emergency medical tent set up to care for earthquake victims, Dr. David Joba has treated a number of people for shock but nothing serious.

He says about five or six people have mild coughs.

But the homes in these villages have sustained massive damage from the quake. House after house has either collapsed or has severe structural damage. Some houses were a pile of rubble. Others were teetering, the walls ruptured, the roofs full of holes. Broken glass and piles of bricks covered the ground.

Families are now living in makeshift tents. They are reacting to their loss in a variety of ways.

One family in the village of Lansano lost the small store they operated, the school they ran and their home. When asked what they will do, the mother responds with determination that life go on.

She says they will wake up again!

In the village of Barung, Iza Wati's home is in ruins and she is distraught.

She says what will happen she does not know. What can I do? she asks.

Adi Kato runs a small radio station that is affiliated with VOA in Padang, but his family's home is in Barung. He was born in the house in 1944. Now the ceiling has fallen, and the brick and mortar exterior has crumbled. His mother's picture still hangs on the inside wall. He says he and other poor people hurt by the earthquake need help from foreign countries, like the United States to rebuild.

"But we have no money," said Kato. "We hope US aid can help me."

His plea was echoed by many villagers. They want to rebuild their lives but they cannot do it by themselves.


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