Runway Accident, Rains Hamper Relief Efforts

January 4, 2005

Even as countries around the globe continued to bolster relief efforts (See Headline), the world was reminded that chance and the weather sometimes conspire against the best of intentions.

The airport at Banda Aceh on the Indonesian Island of Sumatra was closed earlier today when a cargo plane struck a cow that had wandered onto the runway, as the plane was taxiing after landing. As a result no other planes could land for some 15 hours until local authorities, who had no heavy equipment, managed to remove the damaged aircraft.

The airport at Banda Aceh is vital to relief efforts, as it is the only suitable landing strip for planes carrying emergency supplies. Road networks and other transport links within Aceh province have been almost totally destroyed by the tsunamis, which struck the island on Dec. 26.

The death toll in Indonesia is currently estimated at around 95,000 of the 145,000 total of those who have been confirmed to have died. Both totals are expected to rise, as more bodies are found, and hope fades for the missing. Many areas of Aceh and many of the smaller islands in the region have yet to be reached by rescue teams.

Meanwhile, some 700 kms. (480 miles) away on Sri Lanka’s Southern coast heavy rains also hampered rescue efforts. The heavy downpour made the already flooded roads next to impassable and hampered air traffic. Authorities in the region also fear that the resultant floods may speed the development of water born diseases, as well as further worsening the plight of refugees generally.

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