News

Aid Slow to Reach Tsunami Victims in Northern Sumatra

Nancy-Amelia CollinsKate Pound Dawson

VOA's Indonesia Correspondent Nancy-Amelia Collins is in the town of Lhokseumawe, in Indonesia's Aceh Province, which was hit the hardest by Sunday's earthquake and tsunami waves. Nancy, who has spent years covering Southeast Asia and has seen many natural disasters, tells our Asia editor in Hong Kong, Kate Pound Dawson, that this is the worst she has witnessed.

NAC: "I am in Lhokseumawe, which is about 300 kilometers southeast of Banda Aceh, the worst hit area. Thousands of people are along the road here. All the mosques along the road -- you can see refugees filling up the mosques.

They are living in pretty primitive conditions, with tarpaulins, laying out their meager belongings. There are little bits of aid, people have been collecting along the highway. It's just an ad hoc collection, local people collecting food and money to give to the refugees. And the Department of Forestry has been loading up trucks with food to take up to Banda Aceh.

Right now, we are going to check on the refugee camps to see how much aid is getting through, because it certainly does not look like that much. … Even outside the hospital, there are just hundreds and hundreds of refugees camping out front, clutching a few pitiful pieces of clothing, usually tied up in a sarong. It does look like people really are suffering here."

DAWSON: When you said that you are not seeing very much relief, why is that? Is there any word on why it does not seem to be reaching the area?

NAC: " It is not clear at this point. In Medan, the airport there is full of aid flights, taking off constantly to Banda Aceh. But it seems to be a bit of a back up of aid on the tarmac. It would be very easy to load a lot of this stuff up on trucks, and take it up on trucks, because the roads are not that bad. It is not really clear why they are not doing that.

Again, it seems to me that people are just taking it upon themselves to start collecting food and money. For the people here in Lhokseumawe, they are trying to give them whatever they can. They do not have adequate shelter, that is very clear. There is no petrol left, and that is another problem. People cannot get any gasoline for their trucks. It is (Lhokseumawe) right on the ocean, and it is very clear - you can see where the swathe of the tsunami came in, inland here. "

DAWSON: You have been around Indonesia, you have been around the Philippines, you have seen disasters in Southeast Asia before. How bad is this?

Residents carry a body of a victim after tidal waves hit in Lhokseumawe, Indonesia
NAC: "The worst I have ever seen in my life. There is just nothing to compare this with, the scale and the scope of this is just tremendous. You can see just on people's faces, how they are walking around like zombies, they are just in shock. Even going along the highways, every so often, you would see a gathering, where people are holding funerals. Everyone is just so completely affected by this thing, I have never seen anything like it."

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fairi
X
Brian Padden
May 29, 2015 1:27 PM
With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs