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Thursday 30 December 2004

Transportation Problems Stall Many Rescue Efforts


Among the green tents and tarp shelters hurriedly thrown up on the outskirts of this city, the only medical attention offered Wednesday to thousands of refugees from the massive tsunami three days earlier came from a dozen student volunteers handing out painkillers and vitamin C.

As the world scrambled to the rescue, survivors of the floods fought over packs of noodles in quake-stricken Indonesian streets Wednesday while relief supplies piled up at the airport for lack of cars, gas or passable roads to move them.

Survivors pitching camp on the sprawling lawns of a local television station near the oceanfront capital of Aceh province, on the western island of Sumatra, had expected more from the relief effort. Now they feel abandoned.

"There has been no help," lamented Yasin, 42, clad in a gray plaid sarong, sitting quietly on woven mats spread beneath a broad shade tree, hugging his young daughter while he spoke.

At the far end of the mats rested a sack of rice, mostly empty. He figured it would last two more days.

"I don't know what I should do then," added Yasin, whose gray goatee matched his short, graying hair. "I don't have anything left."

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