Java quake: Jesuit says help has not reached most devastated area

 The districts of Wedi, Gantiwarno and Bayat have been "totally forgotten" by rescue teams and the news media, according to a priest who has visited the area. More 2,000 people died in these three sub-districts of Klaten regency in the earthquake that struck the Indonesian island of Java on 27 May. To date, only a few rescue workers have gone there and survivors have complained about the indifference of their co-nationals. AsiaNews quotes Fr Drajad Soesilo, a Jesuit from the parish of St Ignatius in Danan (Central Java), who went to these places as coordinator of a team of volunteers from the Compassion Group. He said: "These three areas are among the most heavily devastated by the quake. The only food supplies these local residents could get during these last five days were four portions of noodles and two kilos of rice for each family. No government relief has arrived to these areas; the people have been completely forgotten even by their fellow citizens." The priest said when his group of volunteers went, the displaced people greeted them warmly and showed appreciation, "however, so far, we have only managed to take a few things like biscuits, instant noodles and some rice." Compassion Group also donated some tents, kitchen utensils, and oil lamps to the displaced people, "who are still sleeping in cemeteries, rice-fields, cow pens and chicken coops". Fr Soesilo said: "Even the media has not paid due attention to the tragedy of these three districts, concentrating only on the ancient royal city of Yogyakarta and Bantul regency. Often, I hear talk of the 'Yogyakarta disaster', instead of the 'Yogyakarta - Klaten disaster'." Murdolo, a member of the provincial administration of central Java, shared the same view. He visited Klaten and Bantul after the quake. "It's not fair to forget the displaced people and seriously injured victims of Klaten," he said. "Here the devastation is massive, even more than in Yogyakarta." The death toll in Klaten is of 2,000 people, he said, adding that more than 9,000 homes and other buildings had fallen. The repercussions of the tragedy on the local economy must also be taken into account. In such conditions, the people, mostly workers with low wages and landless peasants, will be driven to their knees. The famous traditional market of Pasar Wedi Tugu, 3,000 square metres, in the heart of Wedi, was badly damaged. For 80 years, this market place played a vital role in Wedi, Gantiwarno and Bayat: Pasar Wedi Tugu was like a "second home" for more than 300 sellers and buyers of the three districts stricken by the quake. From an economic perspective, traditional markets in Central Java are very important resources for modern trade centres. The earthquake has seriously damaged 30 such markets, including Yogyakarta and Klaten. The damage done to school buildings is also cause for concern. The three districts lost 248 schools and no one has any idea when children will start going to school again. Source: AsiaNews/Jesuit Communications Office

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