UN Seeks $50.5 Million for Indonesia Disaster Aid
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The United Nations says it is seeking $50.5 million from the international community to provide relief for the 191,000 Indonesians affected by last week's earthquake and tsunami in central Sulawesi.
The U.N. announced its plan Friday, saying it developed the program in consultation with its counterparts in the Indonesian government. The initiative outlines the support needed from the international community over the next three months.
The death toll from the Sept. 28 earthquake and tsunami in central Sulawesi has surpassed 1,500, and some 2,500 people have been reported seriously injured. The U.N. said in a statement that 113 people remain missing. About 70,000 people have been displaced.
United Nations Resident Coordinator in Indonesia, Anita Nirody, said the full scale of the disaster and the recovery needs are becoming clear now that a week has passed. She said the plan includes immediate relief, as well as logistical support needed to deliver aid to those who need it.
Also Friday, Indonesia's vice president, Jusuf Kalla, visited the city of Palu, which the tsunami hit hard.
Kalla was expected to visit with victims being treated at a local hospital, attend a prayer service and observe disaster relief distribution at a local seaport.
He gave a short news conference in which he encouraged residents to work with government and local authorities to rebuild the city.
Earlier Friday in Palu, survivors came together for a traditional weekly prayer.
Meanwhile, Antara News reported the city's main market has reopened, under tight security by armed guards, although it said some stalls were still closed. Traders told the Indonesian news outlet they feared being raided by looters.
Electricity has been restored to some parts of the city, which has a population of upward of 370,000 residents and which endured the brunt of the disaster. Shops have reopened, a major phone network is back in operation, and a small number of commercial flights are expected to resume flying in and out of the city's wrecked airport.
As emergency relief slowly arrives in Sulawesi, authorities have begun stepping up security to end the sporadic looting by residents desperate for food and clean water.
The 7.5-magnitude quake triggered a huge tsunami that turned scores of houses and buildings in Palu into mounds of debris. Roads and bridges were washed away, cutting off at least three districts near Palu with a combined population of more than 1 million people.
Indonesia and its 18,000 islands are located along the Pacific Ocean's "Ring of Fire" and frequently are struck by earthquake, volcano and tsunami activity.
In 2004, a 9.1-magnitude earthquake off Sumatra and a subsequent tsunami killed about 230,000 people in 14 Pacific countries. About half of those deaths occurred in Indonesia.
Source: Voice of America