Witnesses have spoken of residents who have taken to digging through reeking piles of sodden food and debris, searching a warehouse wrecked by the tsunami for anything they could salvage: cans of condensed milk, soft drinks, rice, sweets and painkillers.
Over the last week, desperate survivors have been raiding shops for food and water but as aid now starts to trickle in, the authorities have vowed to end it.
This morning, local military colonel Ida Dewa Agung Hadisaputra revealed soldiers had now been given orders to shoot people spotted stealing from shops.
‘If there is looting again, we will quickly fire a warning shot and then shoot to immobilise,’ he said.
‘They tried to loot on the first day, when gasoline… and water were not available. Stores were also closed. ‘That kind of situation caused them to loot.’ ‘We could tolerate it (looting) on the first and second day because they needed those things,’ he continued. ‘But on the third day, they started looting things like electronic equipment.’
The Indonesian military are wanting to restore order before the aid convoys land amid fears that trucks and planes carrying food could be ambushed. The move comes hours after the DEC – a group of 14 UK aid agencies – launched a joint fundraising appeal to try to help the survivors and the first British aid plane will leave today.
So far, 1,424 people are confirmed dead and more bodies are being brought out on an hourly basis. However there is a lack of heavy equipment to dig them out and the number of body bags is running low. When they are found, the dead are hastily buried in mass graves to prevent the spread of disease.
Sadly, it has been days since anyone has been found alive in the rubble. A further 2,549 are severely injured while aid workers say there are 200,000 people in dire need of food, water or medical aid.