Monday, January 03, 2005


Help Is Reaching Banda Aceh

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia - The head of the US military’s relief operations in Indonesia’s tsunami-hit Aceh province said Monday the devastation was beyond belief, but that the American aid effort was “going great”.

“I’ve been down the coast and it’s just unbelievable what the force of this tsunami has caused to the villages,” Rear Admiral Doug Crowder told reporters at the Indonesian military airbase in the capital of Banda Aceh.

“Some places have been flattened for a mile and a half, (there are) mostly just foundations of homes and businesses left.”

US navy Sea Hawk helicopters have been airlifting supplies into the most isolated areas of Aceh’s west coast since Saturday and evacuating some survivors back to Banda Aceh.

Aceh’s west coast took the full force of the December 26 tsunamis, which killed more than 94,000 people in Indonesia and another 50,000 elsewhere.

Crowder, commander of the USS Abraham Lincoln which is stationed just off Aceh’s coast, said US helicopters had so far delivered 50,000 pounds (22,600 kilograms) of food and water, saying the operation as “going great”.

He said he was also inspired by the reaction of the survivors to the US operation.

“After we finished offloading what we had in that helicopter, one of the individuals, a young man, turned and gave me a wonderful smile and a thumbs up and for me I’ll remember that,” he said.

The head of the United Nation’s relief operations in Indonesia, Michael Elmquist, said on Saturday the US navy’s efforts in the isolated disaster areas were vital, as the near-starving survivors would not receive help otherwise.

“It’s absolutely life saving,” Elmquist, the chief of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Indonesia, told AFP.

“We are absolutely thrilled that Americans are doing that. They are the only ones who have the capacity to reach those parts of the population right now

Source: Khaleej Times

Help is reaching these poor people...but it will be a long time before we know the true count of lost lives, shattered lives, economic setbacks and destroyed dreams. These people, no matter what their race or religion, are our brothers. People in 12 nations were affected.

You can help. You can find a list of relief agencies and charities here.

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