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Aid Arriving in Indonesia Quake Zone

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

First the lead. Emergency help is starting to reach the areas of Java hit hardest by Saturday's earthquake. Java is the largest of the islands of Indonesia. More than 100 million people live there. More than 5,000 are now known to have died in this earthquake. The epicenter was near the city of Yogyakarta, where an estimated 200,000 are now homeless. Barry Came is there. He's Public Information Officer for the U.N. World Food Program. Barry, welcome to DAY TO DAY. Tell us what you've seen there. What is going on?

Mr. BARRY CAME (Public Information Officer, U.N. World Food Program): It's still pretty grim, although we're kind of entering the second phase of the recovery. Basically what happened, two districts are sort of south of Yogyakarta, a place called Bentu(ph), and another place called Classen(ph), the houses all fell down. I mean, basically 80% of the houses are destroyed, and then there's 200,000 people, or so they say, living in the open. Basically the situation is most of these people are - are camped out in the ruins of their own homes, salvaging what they can from the rubble, and they need care. They need, basically they need a helping hand.

CHADWICK: So there's no shelter there, and I heard a report yesterday from our reporter, Michael Sullivan, who's there on the island, that it's also raining there. So conditions must be pretty bad?

Mr. CAME: Yes, it rained. It's that time of the year. It's raining right now, as a matter of fact. Yeah, these people need shelter. They need food. We did a rapid assessment with five other U.N. agencies, and as far as the food needs are concerned, the program we decided on is a two-month transition program to help these people get from where they are now, having lost homes and livelihoods, to get back on their feet again.

So over the next month we will be feeding 80,000 people. The second month, that figure will drop to 50,000 people, and after that we estimate that they won't need our help anymore.

CHADWICK: Well, is there food there now? Have your emergency supplies begun arriving?

Mr. CAME: Sort of the upside of the story is - I mean, we have all kinds of (unintelligible) available because, number one, of the tsunamis, and number two, the looming threat of nearby Mount Merapi, the volcano, which continues to threaten to erupt. We will need, we estimate, a little over 300 metric tons of food aid to get over those two-month periods.

CHADWICK: You have supplies on hand because of this volcano near there, and because of the tsunami. But I wonder if people there in the area aren't exhausted or struck in some way by these natural disasters that seem to keep occurring to them?

Mr. CAME: Of course. We saw the initial panic that spread through Yogyakarta when they had the massive earthquake and everyone was looking to the sea, thinking there was going to be another tsunami, and they were already heavily stressed because of the volcano 30 kilometers to the north smoking away. So yes, it's not a nice time for these people.

CHADWICK: Barry Came is Public Information Officer for the U.N. World Food Program. He's in Yogyakarta, the epicenter of the earthquake that struck Java. Barry, thank you.

Mr. CAME: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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