05 June, 2006

U.N. says Java quake aid flowing, housing critical

YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia, June 5 (Reuters) - Aid is now flowing to tens of thousands of survivors of Indonesia's earthquake but shelter remains a critical problem, the United Nations said on Monday, as Jakarta revised down the disaster death toll. The Indonesian government said it would start handing out compensation to the victims to buy clothes and reconstruct their houses, more than a week after the quake killed 5,782 people and left tens of thousands homeless. An official at the Social Affairs Department said the death toll from the magnitude 6.3 quake -- which struck the Java island at dawn on May 27 -- had been revised down from the earlier 6,234 after officials reviewed the numbers. U.N. local coordinator Charlie Higgins said the aid operation was now in full swing after being constrained by the topography of Yogyakarta and Central Java, where hundreds of villages are squeezed between rice fields and congested urban centres. "We have overcome most of the logistical bottlenecks that prevented the flow of assistance," he said.

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