Earthquake reconstruction

25 April 2008

Indonesia: Indonesia's government is calling for foreign aid agencies to focus on reconstruction rather than medical aid following last month's earthquake in central Java. The focus of the 6.2 magnitude earthquake, which occurred on 24 May, was 10 km underground and 25 km southwest of the city of Yogyakarta.

According to local reports over 5700 people were killed and more than 33000 were injured in the earthquake which destroyed 49000 homes and damaged 118000 others. Despite heavy rains following the quake and eruptions from the nearby Mount Merapi volcano, Indonesia's Foreign Ministry said that the country did not need medical assistance.

“Our assessments of the affected areas suggest that additional medical teams are not needed,” said Foreign Ministry general secretary Imron Cotan. “Assistance in the form of reconstruction and rehabilitation is more appropriate.”

The government has estimated that it will take up to two years to complete reconstruction work in the region. However, according to reports in the local media better application of construction standards in the regions would have significantly cut the death and injury toll.

Wayan Sengara from the Department of Civil Engineering at Bandung Institute of Technology told the Jakarta Post that while most houses in Yogyakarta suffered structural damage, the more strongly built hotels in the city only sustained broken windows. “The government established quake proof construction standards in 1970 and revised them in 2002. But these standards add up to +15% to the construction costs which is why they are often ignored,” he said.

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