More countries pledge aid for quake victims

Veeramalla Anjaiah and Febriyan ,  The Jakarta Post ,  Jakarta, Bandung   |  Sat, 10/03/2009 2:04 PM  |  Headlines

Mother Nature has been cruel to the people of Padang, but around the world, people have generously opened their wallets and sent planeloads of food, water, medicine and equipment.

Rescue workers, doctors and even dogs have been sent from abroad to help the thousands of people still buried beneath the rubble of the devastated city.

The biggest help came from the European Commission, the richest regional organization in the world.

"The European Commission has today provided 3 million euros *US$4.36 million* to help deal with initial humanitarian needs and to bring relief to the victims," European Commission chairman Jose Manuel Barroso said in a message sent to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Friday.

Norway might be a small country, and worlds away from Indonesia, but it has donated generously for the rescue and relief efforts.

"Our Minister of Environment and International Development Erik Solheim talked to Vice President Jusuf Kalla on Thursday and conveyed Norway's condolences to the people of Indonesia," Norwegian Embassy Charge d'Affaires Mette Kottmann told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

"Norway will provide a total of NOK 20 million *$3.44 million* for emergency relief efforts."

Germany's Federal Foreign Office announced Thursday an assistance of 1 million euros to provide emergency aid.

The British government announced Friday it would send a planeload of relief supplies, rescue equipment and firefighters to Padang.

The US government announced Friday in Washington it would provide $300,000 in assistance as its initial response to the disaster.

Another $3 million has already been set aside to provide further new assistance after the full need for assistance is determined.

The South Korean Embassy said Friday that Seoul would provide $500,000 worth of materials, including tents, blankets and medicine, to the victims.

ASEAN chair Thailand will send a plane Saturday with relief supplies worth $170,000 to Jakarta.

In response to President Yudho-yono's call, Taiwan also decided to donate $150,000 to the effort.

The Finance Ministry's Director General for Customs Anwar Suprijadi said Friday in Bandung the government would ease several rules to allow foreign assistance to flow smoothly and quickly into the disaster-affected areas.

"I've already issued a letter and sent it to all the airports and ports to facilitate the aid supply process," he said.

The earthquake in Padang has also turned into tragedy for several foreigners who were in the area on that fateful day.

The Australian Embassy reports at least 60 Australians are still missing.

"Australian officials are checking hospitals to find any Australians caught up in the earthquake," the embassy said.

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