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Powered by, one of the most popular daily English language newspapers in the United Arab Emirates.

Expatriates tell tales of devastation

10/05/2009 07:50 AM

Abu Dhabi: John Spardy was overjoyed to learn that his mother and sister were able to run out of their home when an earthquake struck Padang, his hometown.

"My mother and two sisters were enjoying a nice evening on Wednesday around 5:15pm [local time] when loud noises of falling buildings terrified them.

"My house had only minor damage but several houses in the area [Bukitinggi, about 100 km from Padanag] were totally destroyed," said Spardy, an engineer who lives with his wife and children in Abu Dhabi.

He was also happy to know that his friends in Padang city were safe.

"I was able to talk to them over the phone by Saturday evening."

He spoke to Gulf News on the sidelines of a meeting at the Indonesian Embassy in Abu Dhabi on Saturday evening to pray for the victims of the earthquake that struck Sumatra. Widia Vorland, a house- wife, has not been able to contact her younger sister living in Duri in the Pekabamu area of Sumatra. "But later I came to know from my family in Jakarta that there was not much destruction in her area.

"She must be safe. I think I can talk to her as soon as the telephone network is restored," Vorland said.

Hannan Hadi, a consul in the embassy, said his mother and maid escaped unhurt because his house in Padang withstood the quake.

"But the houses of my neighbours were totally destroyed and they are homeless now," he said.

Haddi said there is no electricity in the area and people are queuing up to get petrol for power generators.

Relief: How to help

The Indonesian Embassy converted a reception into a prayer meeting, considering the sad plight of thousands of victims, M. Wahid Supriyadi, Indonesian Ambassador to the UAE, told Gulf News.

The reception was planned to celebrate Unesco's announcement that batik, Indonesia's traditional art of dying cloth through the use of wax, as an intangible cultural heritage. The meeting formed a committee comprising an official of the embassy and representatives of community organisations to coordinate a fundraising drive for the victims of the earthquake.

The committee will be in touch with the government and social organisations in Padang. To contribute to the fund or to learn about the situation of the victims, people can call 050-794 0918 a hotline set up by the embassy.

Doctor recalls experience

Dr Sylvia Jenkins said earthquake victims need not only the relief materials but somebody to talk to them to overcome the trauma.

Jenkins is an Indonesian doctor who has worked as a volunteer in quake areas. She said children are the worst victims of these situations, because traumatised elders can not console them.

Do you know anyone who has been affected by this? How did they manage? Have you tried sending aid?

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