Relief Efforts Continue in Aceh Province, Indonesia
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JONATHAN MILLER: For the bereaved survivors of the horrors visited on this benighted city, the great mosque of Banda Aceh was today an oasis of peace. After 29 years of war, it seems the Acehenese have no more tears left to cry. They have borne this tragedy stoically, these fervent Muslims, fatalistic about their terrible plight.
“Thanks be to Allah. We have remained faithful,” the imam said. “We are suffering, sick, hungry, stressed, but God sent us this tsunami as a warning.” We have sinned,” he said. “We lie, steal and kill” He asked God for forgiveness. He also noted the international response to the disaster and told the Acehenese people to start rebuilding their lives.
The 17 Seahawks for the USS Abraham Lincoln are now flying 45 dawn-to-dusk missions a day, carrying 45,000 kilos of rice, canned foods, milk powder, water, and high energy biscuits to 15 sites down the west coast. U.S. sailors volunteer each day to come ashore and load aircraft. A Marine expeditionary force with its own fleet of choppers will be operational off the devastated town of Malabo within days, doubling the U.S. airborne relief operation.
LT. COMMANDER JOHN BERNARD, USS Abraham Lincoln: We can see the people coming to get the food and getting the food. Initially when we first started doing this, a lot of the survivors weren’t familiar with helicopter operations so they would kind of surge towards the helicopter. Using interpreters and then getting used to the way we work now, they wait until we depart before they come and get the food. But we’re confident that we are making a difference every day.
JONATHAN MILLER: Return flights are still bringing back injured 12 days after the tsunami struck. Now the traumatic wounds they typically see are increasingly badly infected, often gangrenous; dirty water and the hot moist climate is a paradise for bacteria. Here Australian medics are evacuating seriously injured to other hospitals on Sumatra.
MICHAEL HUGGINS, World Food Program: All around the airport today you can see militaries from, you know, more than fifteen, twenty countries here setting up and getting ready to play a part in the humanitarian response. You know, we have American helicopters taking WFP food down the coast; we have the Australian army flying food in from other parts of Asia to help us to make sure we have enough food to reach the people. So it really is a phenomenal response.
JONATHAN MILLER: C-130 transporters land one after the other. Today alone the World Food Program flew in 265 tons of food aid. Less than a week ago, there was virtually nothing in place.