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Ambassador: Indonesians "pray for miracles"
By Qin Jize (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-01-05 01:14

Indonesia's ambassador to China said his people have not lost hope of finding additional survivors from the devastating tsunami that struck the Indian Ocean region more than a week ago.

"We are praying for miracles," Aa Kustia said. "However, with the resumption of communication, the number of missing and dead is still expected to rise."

He said the number of dead in Indonesia now stands at 94,081, while some 3,000 others remain unaccounted for. More than 515,000 people have been made homeless.

Like other nations,Indonesian officials are now worried about the possibility of epidemic outbreaks.

"Medical help is desperately needed for fear a breakout of disease among the homeless may occur," the ambassador said.

The Indonesian Government is working swiftly to bury hundreds of thousands of decomposing bodies, with experts warning they could trigger disease.

"A lot of disinfection work has been done and people are busy smoking out mosquitoes," he said.

Responding to reports of incidents of robbery targeting Chinese Indonesians, the ambassador said his government would mount a massive security operation to maintain social stability.

He said no big cases have been reported and those committing such crimes did so because of hunger.

Embassy staff in Beijing, except for one, found reasons to be thankful in the wake of the disaster since most did not lose relatives in the chaos.

One staffer's nephew perished, however.

Many of the 1,000 Indonesians living in China, 80 per cent of whom are students, have been worrying about their homeland.

"We called the student leaders at universities in Beijing soon after the disaster," said Hutagalung, counsellor of information, social and cultural affairs, "and received no report of heavy losses."

"It is possible that they may simply don't want to tell us," he said.

More than 200 Indonesians were gathered at the embassy on Friday to mourn the victims.

He said the embassy calls back to Jakarta every hour to closely follow up on latest developments.

The Chinese people have shown great concern to the disaster victims, and for Chinese living there.

"We help the Chinese citizens to get in touch with their loved ones in Indonesia and we tell the Chinese Government what kind of aid is urgently needed in Indonesia," he said.

"The visa procedure has been simplified for Chinese people, including journalists who want to cover the disaster and those volunteers," he said.

There is a cash donation box at the entrance of the embassy and he said the donations from the Chinese public have now reached 110,000 yuan (US$13,300)

He said the ruined roads and bad communications were preventing the distribution of aid supplies from several major cities to affected areas.

The Embassy of The Republic of Indonesia is accepting charitable contributions through a 24-hour hotline at 65325489. Individuals can call for more information.Beneficiary:DANA SOSIAL DEPLU



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