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Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Tsunami survivors 'too weak to get aid'

Villagers who fled to higher ground when the tsunami ravaged Indonesia's Sumatran coast more than a week ago may now be too weak from hunger to come down to get aid that is finally getting into the area, a relief official says.

US Navy helicopters flew more than two dozen relief missions to stricken towns on Monday, dropping food parcels and evacuating about 60 people to an ad hoc aid station at a provincial city airport staffed by medical teams from Australia, China, Taiwan and other places.

But many others in need may still be in the jungle-clad mountains inland to which they fled, scrounging for whatever food they can find and gradually weakening from hunger, said Supranto, an official with the UN-affiliated International Organisation of Migration.

"These people haven't eaten rice for five or six days," said Supranto, who like many Indonesians uses just one name.

"For an Indonesian, that's really bad. No matter how poor you are in Indonesia, you can always eat rice.

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