22 Jun 2010

IRC in Indonesia says assisting most injured from quake is a priority

10:29 am on 22 June 2010

The International Red Cross in Indonesia says people seriously injured in last Wednesday's earthquake in West Papua are being evacuated by helicopter from their remote island home.

17 people are now known to have died on the island of Yapen in the magnitude 7.1 quake, while a number are still missing.

The Red Cross says 2500 houses were destroyed and many thousands more were damaged, leaving more than 4600 homeless sheltering amongst the debris.

The head of the Red Cross delegation in Indonesia Bob McKerrow says they're working with the Indonesian government to transport tents and food to the island by helicopter.

But he says their foremost concern is assisting more than 150 injured people.

"Basically the priorities are evacuating people with serious injury, getting medical treatment to them. People will survive for a week to ten days living off the land but it's those people that are seriously injured, if you don't get them out in four or five days often they die through crush injuries or spinal injuries."

Bob McKerrow says it is difficult for the government to respond to a disaster in such a remote area.