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Banda Aceh clears debris and the dead


GOVERNMENT FOCUS in Banda Aceh was last week firmly fixed on clearing the city of debris and dead bodies.

Road access is now possible to the worst hit areas of the city, as main highways have been cleared.

But roads are suffering frequent poundings from monsoon rains, leaving deep, water-filled potholes which are hard to negotiate.

Aceh provincial government's deputy head of water resources Eko Purwadi said all his department's available manpower was devoted to the clean-up.

A total of 663 vehicles are shifting tonnes of sludge and wreckage from housing and local amenity buildings.

This includes 449 dump trucks, 119 excavators and 31 bulldozers with teams working in shifts for around 20 hours a day.

'We are hoping it will take no more than one month, finishing three weeks from now. Once the clearing is done we can start with things like sanitation, ' said Purwadi.

The emphasis on clearing the city is restricting efforts to recover dead bodies.

'The (body) retrieval process is still facing obstacles due to a lack of transportation because only 40 dump trucks are provided per day to operate in Banda Aceh and Aceh Besar (inland district to the south and west), ' said the United Nations in a statement last week.

On 11 and 12 January alone, 3,519 and 2,661 bodies respectively were recovered. IL

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