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Indonesian Earthquake Aid Distribution Underway

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The United States today sent the first installment of a multi-million dollar assistance package to the Indonesian Island of Sumatra, to aid victims of the recent earthquake. Other international organizations and the government of Indonesia have also been providing assistance. However infrastructure damage caused by the earthquake is making it hard to access and distribute aid to some remote villages.

The United States brought in 45 metric tons of plastic sheeting, hygiene kits, and generators to help victims of the Indonesian earthquake. The items will be distributed by the Red Cross. The U.S. has also been using military planes to transport rescue workers and supplies.

The United States is one of many countries providing humanitarian assistance. Australia sent a warship carrying a full medical team. France sent two aircraft with about 23 metric tons of relief supplies. And teams from a number of countries have been assisting in rescue and relief efforts.

The United Nations is also involved. It constructed the first of 250 classroom tents to be built in the city of Padang.

Other organizations like World Vision are also focusing on the needs of children. It is setting up 13 centers they call Child-Friendly Spaces, where children can play with other children, and get counseling.

World Vision's Amelia Merrick, says getting schools back up and running quickly is a top priority, particularly in areas like Pariaman where entire villages were buried by landslides caused by the quake.

"In many of other schools we've been seeing in Pariaman, the schools were absolutely flat," Merrick said. "There won't be any desks we can salvage there. There are no books we can salvage. That would be another quite challenge. But we do hope that the school can resume within the next couple of weeks."

Indonesian Search and Rescue Agency spokesman, Gagah Prakoso says infrastructure damage is also hampering efforts to bring aid to some rural areas.

He says mud and rocks are blocking some roads, others are torn up, making it difficult to distribute aid. Authorities are using helicopters to drop aid to isolated areas. But heavy rains are complicating further efforts to reach these areas by land and the weather forecast for the region calls for more storms in the coming days.