• Short Summary

    In Nicaragua the Red Cross in Friday (29 December) told Government officials that they were running out of food for earthquake victims.

  • Description

    GV & CU Train carrying refugees (4 shots)

    GV PAN Refugees on moving train and bus moving along-side train (2 shots)

    GV & CU Patients on hospital beds (3 shots)

    SV & CU Nuree prepares medicine (2 shots)

    SCU Doctor interviewed (SOF continues over shots of refugees in hospital)

    "The hospital at Masaya, a small town 20 miles outside Managua, is crowded with victims of the earthquake who managed to make their own way out of the city, or were taken there because, they couldn't be cared for in the capital. But the town itself is so jammed full with, perhaps, twice the normal population. They won't be able to cope with that indefinitely. According to many relief workers, much of the hardship could have been avoided."

    QUESTION: "What sort of organisation has there been from a relief point of view?"

    RELIEF WORKER: "The first couple of days, nothing. Nothing at all. Just people milling around looking for something to do. Plenty of doctors; plenty of nurses; plenty of food; plenty of medicine. Nobody will ever let you out to go to the airport. Nobody gives you any medicine. Nurses and doctors are just running round in groups of friends looking for something to do. Injured people all over the place and just no organisation, no coordination at all."

    QUESTION: "Has there been a central chain of command, somebody who has taken control of it and organised it from the top?"

    RELIEF WORKER: "Starting last night, they had a meeting here and they've got a central committee here in Masaya."

    QUESTION: "Five days after it began?"

    RELIEF WORKER: "Yes, which is working very well, but it took five days."

    QUESTION: "In those five days, what was the effect of the delay?"

    RELIEF WORKER: "You only have to see inside the hospital. We have people here who haven't's eaten for four days."

    QUESTION: "And the effect on them?"

    RELIEF WORKER: "They are never going to get better if they don't eat. There are people here with fractures untreated. No treatment for four days; no food for four days. People in Managua, I saw people drinking sewage water. Breaking open sewerage pipes and drinking the water. There's nothing else. Nothing else at all."

    QUESTION: "So the effect of the delay, from a health point of view, is disastrous?"

    RELIEF WORKER: "Disastrous."

    Nicaragua, shattered by an earthquake in its capital of Managua, is now struggling to solve its refugee problem. Thousands of earthquake victims have fled from the capital on trains for the safety of the surrounding countryside. They have crowded into nearby towns and villages, but relief workers say the refugees can't all be absorbed by these country communities.

    The hospital of Masaya, twenty miles southeast of the capital, is over-crowded with victims of last weekend's disaster. Most of them have been sent here because they couldn't be cared for in Managua. The town's population has doubled and relief workers believe the town can't cope with the refugee problem indefinitely. One relief worker explains how much of this hardship could have been avoided.

    Initials ESP/0452 ESP/0503

    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: In Nicaragua the Red Cross in Friday (29 December) told Government officials that they were running out of food for earthquake victims. The Red Cross said there was only enough food left for another 72 hours.

    Food was being flown in but there were few trucks or manpower to move it out of Managua Airport.

    Refugees are still streaming from the earthquake-shattered capital into the small towns and villages in surrounding countryside. Relief workers now fear that a refugee problem will develop in towns which cannot absorb those victims seeking shelter.

    However, according to many relief workers, much of this hardship could have been avoided.

    This item includes narration by British Broadcasting Corporation reporter John Humphires, and an interview with a relief worker at Masaya. An alternative commentary is provided overleaf.

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