Indonesia quake: Aceh is not alone says Widodo but rescue and relief remain crippled

Hospital in the region face staff shortage and paucity for beds and medical supplies.

Aceh earthquake

Indonesia is reeling under the mammoth challenge of coping with the devastation that unfolded in Aceh after the earthquake on Wednesday. The 6.5 magnitude tremor that struck a densely populated province killed at least 100 people, and the disaster management agency said death toll is likely to rise.

Children suffer the worst

Heartbreaking pictures of children's lifeless bodies being pulled from the rubble have gone viral. Cranes and other heavy machinery are being used to remove debris to rescue victims. Selina Sumbung, the chief of Save the Children, said they cannot give an estimate of how many children lost their lives as several are fighting for their lives in hospitals. 'Earthquakes can be extremely frightening, and children's psychosocial wellbeing will be an important part of the recovery process,' Sumbung told the Daily Mail.

'We are working to make sure that no child is left behind, here in Pidie or at any other area in Indonesia," she added.

Sad state of hospitals

As injured people pour in at the hospitals, medical facilities are falling short. Victims from Pidie Jaya regency were transferred to nearby hospitals as the Pidie Jaya Hospital was reduced to rubbles. Pidie Jaya regent Aiyub Abbas said that the hospital faced staff shortage and paucity for beds and medical supplies, the Straits Times reported. The towns in the region face shortage for food and water, the regent added.

Government's insensitive effort?

Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management (BNPB) chief Sutopo Nugroho asked why durable buildings were not made in disaster prone areas. "But our buildings do not comply with quake-resistant standards ...That is because constructing quake-resistant buildings would cost an extra 30 to 50 per cent in building materials," said Sutopo, according to the news website.

Vice-President Jusuf Kalla said local officials were trained by the government after the 2004 tsunami to make build earthquake-resistant homes. However, it did not work as funding fell short and people also could not care less.

Relentless rescue effort

The state declared a 14-day state of emergency and rescue teams are working relentlessly to dig out survivors from debris. Aceh military chief Tatang Sulaiman told AFP that at least 1,000 soldiers and about 900 police have been deployed to the worst-hit areas. Volunteers are working day and night to set up shelters, provide medical help and facilitate evacuation.

The President's call

President Joko Widodo has instructed all relevant government institutions to carry out rescue operations. The leader is also likely to visit the Aceh province to carry out strict inspection. He also took to Twitter to extend his condolences to the victims and tweeted "Aceh is not alone," he tweeted.