Sunday, December 11, 2016

POST-ACEH EARTHQUAKE Search and Rescue Continues

Earthquakes are a real terror when they strike, especially when they reach magnitudes that start collapsing buildings, because then life and limb are really in danger of being lost. Homes and communities get wrecked, livelihoods are ruined all because of a few minutes or so of some extremely violent shaking that can never be predicted nor adequately protected against. Italy has been the unfortunate victim of such a strong tremor these months past, and the devastation then was best illustrated by a mountain town in the quake area said to be wiped off the map. It’s a terrible tragedy that can happen anywhere in the world.

Case in point, the Indonesian province of Aceh was hammered by a magnitude 6.5 earthquake just this Wednesday morning local time of December 7. According to BBC the latest count thus far has been 102 people dead in the rubble of over 200 houses and other structures throughout the area, with fears that there are even more people still trapped that haven’t been pulled out by search and rescue units, be they alive or dead. Thousands more who have been left homeless by the tremors were forced to relocate to shelters. It was fortunate indeed that, despite tsunami warnings being issued as a precautionary measure, there was no repeat of what happened in 2004 when a quake under the sea just off Aceh resulted in a killer wave that wiped out 160,000 in Indonesia, among plenty others in countries bordering the Indian Ocean.

As emergency crews with heavy machinery (as of Thursday December 8) work around the clock to dig through the debris left by the disaster, Indonesian president Joko Widodo announced his plans to visit Aceh at a later date; he is currently overseeing the situation from Bali.

Throughout the region the story plays out almost the same according to Jonah Fisher, reporting for BBC in Aceh: over 20 bodies pulled out of a collapsed market in Meureudu town this Wednesdaycracked impassable roads and cut power lines reducing the electrical supply in Pidie Jaya; a severe lack of water and foodstuffs for the survivors, although the Indonesian Red Cross has assured that fresh shipments of theses necessities as well as emergency vehicles were on their way to where they’re needed. Police and military have also been putting up tents and other shelters for people to afraid to venture back into any building on account of possible aftershocks. An Aceh resident believes the earthquake was worse in intensity than the one in 2004.

This heartbreaking picture is reality for Aceh, which is on Sumatra Island, part of the Pacific Ring of Fire responsible for volcanic eruptions and seismic nightmares. The December 7 event was merely the latest of many to have shaken Sumatra this year alone.

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