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Aid Reaching Indonesian Town Hit by Tsunami

Kate Pound DawsonMichael Coren

A major earthquake off the Indonesian coast created a tsunami Monday that slammed into beach communities on the western shores of Java island.  More than 300 people died in the waves, and more than 100 are missing.  This was the fourth major earthquake Indonesia has suffered in less than two years, just a month ago in Yogyakarta an earthquake killed more than 5,800 people.  Michael Coren traveled to the town of Pangandaran, one of the worst hit areas in this latest disaster, and spoke with VOA's Kate Pound Dawson in Hong Kong about conditions there.

DAWSON:  "Michael, can you describe the scene there in the community? What are conditions like for the survivors?"

COREN:  "When you drive in, the first thing you see is one of the largest mosques in the community and it is filled with perhaps more than a 100 people who obviously sought shelter there after the waves hit.  Most of the things that were not made of concrete have been swept away, at least across the way and into a residential neighborhood.  And most of the small fishermen's boats also are piled up on the other side or destroyed."

DAWSON:  "Has anyone come to help this community? Are aid workers there, have there been deliveries of food, water and emergency supplies?"

COREN:  "The Red Cross has a pretty strong presence here.  The U.N. has a special response team. They were sent in earlier today, however, they had trouble actually arriving late this afternoon.  There has been some trouble for some vehicles getting through this afternoon due to all the traffic. Now it seems there's quite a strong presence of aid vehicles and military."

DAWSON:  "Michael, you also have been on the scene of the May 27th earthquake in Yogyakarta.  How do conditions in Pangandaran compare?"

COREN:  "The damage here doesn't quite compare with the scope of the devastation. Yogyakarta, something along the order of 150,000 homes were destroyed.  It does not seem to have flattened as many buildings [in Pangandaran].  The death toll has certainly been less."

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