'Too early' for foreign rescue aid

2010-10-27 10:45

Hanoi – Indonesia's foreign minister said on Wednesday he did not yet see a need for foreign rescue assistance after twin tsunami and volcano disasters that left at least 179 people dead in his country.

Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said at about 07:00 that Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had just left Hanoi, cutting short an official visit to head directly to the scene of the tsunami off Sumatra.

"He's going to see for himself the situation in Mentawai where the tsunami struck... and assess the needs for relief operations," Natalegawa told reporters on the sidelines of an ASEAN summit to be held on Thursday and the wider East Asia Summit (EAS) on Saturday.

"But at this time we are conducting all our efforts on a national basis... I'm not foreseeing at this time the need for international assistance," Natalegawa added.

The 7.7-magnitude quake that struck late on Monday near the Mentawai Islands off Sumatra triggered a tsunami that killed at least 154 people and left about 400 missing.

Several hundred kilometres away, another 25 people died on Java after the Mount Merapi volcano erupted.

"We are still very much in a search and rescue phase," Natalegawa said. "The Indonesian government is doing all it can to be able to rescue and to attend to those in need."

Philippines President Benigno Aquino, also in Hanoi for the summits, offered his country's help to its neighbour.

"We are prepared to assist in any way we can," he said.