Sat, 25 Jan 2003

Nearly 2,000 left homeless by quake in Dompu regency

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Nearly 2,000 villagers in the West Nusa Tenggara regency of Dompu discovered on Friday that their homes had been destroyed by an overnight earthquake.

With their houses destroyed by the quake, which measured 5.0 on the Richter scale, the villagers are sheltering in tents erected by emergency workers. Food assistance also has been provided for the victims.

The epicenter of the quake was located in the Flores Sea off Sumbawa, an island that lies to the east of Indonesia's tourist islands of Bali and Lombok.

No fatalities were reported, but two people were injured and 504 buildings damaged or destroyed in the quake. Among the damaged buildings were 12 mosques, 15 elementary schools, two junior high schools, two community health centers and five village administration offices.

"These are temporary figures. We are still updating the damage the quake caused. There have been reports that several other villages also were affected," Dompu Regent Abu Bakar Ahmad was quoted by Antara as saying.

He said two people wounded by falling debris and been treated and reunited with their families.

The quake disrupted telephone communication in the region, located about 1,350 kilometers east of Jakarta, leaving the regency isolated.

Ahmad said most of the buildings damaged by the quake were made of brick, while stilt houses made of wood remained largely untouched.

The spokesman for the Dompu regency administration, Islam, said his office had disbursed Rp 10 million to help quake victims in the Huu district and another Rp 5 million for victims in Pajo district.

He said victims also had received 2.85 tons of rice, 60 boxes of instant noodles and six tents that will be used as temporary classrooms.

"I have been contacted by Governor Harun Al Rasyid and he instructed me to make sure that educational activities continue despite the damaged school buildings," Abu Bakar said.

He said the regency administration had provided victims with shelter and food for three days, and would supply more humanitarian aid for the next three days.

Ahmad called for additional assistance from the central government and provincial administrations.

Antara reported that when visiting quake victims, Ahmad asked them to remain patient and promised them he would work to ensure their safety.

He also said that rebuilding schools would be one of his top priorities.