Indonesia president visits quake survivors, vows to rebuild

AP News
Posted: Dec 08, 2016 11:52 PM
Indonesia president visits quake survivors, vows to rebuild

TRINGGADING, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia's president traveled Friday to areas of Aceh province devastated by a magnitude 6.5 earthquake and vowed that torn-apart communities would be rebuilt.

Stopping at a collapsed mosque in Tringgading not far from the quake's epicenter, Joko "Jokowi" Widodo gave out envelopes stuffed with 15 million rupiah ($1,125) — a small fortune in Aceh where the minimum wage is about 2 million rupiah ($150) a month — to people whose family members were killed.

"We will rebuild the mosque as soon as possible. We start tomorrow, but we have to do it together," he told the crowd.

More than 100 people were killed in the quake that hit the northeast of Aceh province on Sumatra before dawn Wednesday. Hundreds of people were injured and more than 11,000 buildings destroyed or heavily damaged. Thousands of people are living in temporary shelters.

Killer quakes occur regularly in the region, where many live with the terrifying memory of a giant Dec. 26, 2004 earthquake that struck off Sumatra. The magnitude 9.1 quake triggered a devastating tsunami that killed more than 100,000 Acehnese.

Earlier Friday morning, Jokowi and his entourage visited a hospital in the town of Sigli where the injured are being treated. The damaged hospital in Pidie Jaya district near the epicenter has been overwhelmed and some patients were accommodated in tents on its grounds.

Mohammad Reza, the hospital director, said Jokowi handed out envelopes containing 5 million rupiah ($375) to each of the injured.

"His visit is likely a motivation for the victims to move on," Reza said.