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Indonesian government equipped to deal with tsunami emergency: UN

Agence France Presse

July 19, 2006

Indonesia's government is well-placed to deal with emergency needs in the aftermath of a tsunami that lashed Java's south coast this week, a senior UN official said Tuesday.

Abdul Haq Amiri, chief of the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said two assessment teams were sent to Central and West Java after the disaster which killed more than 520 people.

The team covering Central Java completed its work Tuesday, he said.

"Their conclusion was that the scale of the disaster is localised and the government is in a very strong position at least to provide the emergency needs down there," Amiri told AFP.

He said government work on calculating the damage done to houses and other infrastructure was ongoing but the impression was that most of the damage had been to recreational rather than residential areas there.

"It is not on the scale of Yogyakarta," he said, referring to a massive earthquake that shook nearby areas less than two months ago, killing some 5,800 people and leaving around 350,000 families homeless.

The UN has estimated at least 80 million dollars is needed to help about 430,000 vulnerable people following that disaster.

Amiri said the second team in West Java, where the worst-hit district of Ciamis and resort area of Pangandaran is located, was still at work.

"The feeling there also is that this is a badly-hit area, but still the level of disaster is not comparable to the Yogya earthquake... It's much smaller than that," he said.

The most pressing needs there appeared to be for mattresses, blankets, food and trauma counselling, he said.

"The feeling is people will return back home within two to three days, once this panic is over, and that when they return home this process of rehabilitation and responding to medium to longer term needs will kick in."

The UN's World Food Programme has already been distributing food while UNICEF has sent some emergency supplies and the World Health Organisation was working with the health ministry to prioritise needs, Amiri added.

The Asian Development Bank said it was ready to provide support to Indonesia Wednesday while Britain also offered assistance.

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