Indonesian Villagers Await International Earthquake Aid

International relief teams had yet to reach remote areas of Indonesia's quake-zone Thursday, where newly reported deaths from last weekend's disaster raised the toll to more than 6,200, officials said.

With more than a half-million others displaced, aid workers who have poured into the region were scrambling to provide adequate shelter, food and access to health care.

Many villagers complained they were not getting the help they needed. Some searched beneath a steady rain for scraps of tin and other materials to rebuild crumbled homes, while others blocked traffic to beg for money.

"We are forced to do this because the only aid we've received is a bit of food and some cooking oil," said Ribut Setyo Pambudi, 17, after stopping a bus. "We don't have any money to rebuild, to buy gasoline or even to go out to try to find work."

Others placed flower pots and trash cans on streets to slow traffic and beg for donations.

The death toll from Saturday's 6.3-magnitude quake on Java island rose to 6,234 after officials reported 388 more bodies in remote corners of Bantul, said Andi Hanindito, an official at the Social Affairs Ministry.

"We are getting information from areas that were previously inaccessible," he said, adding that phone lines had been restored and many of the damaged roads and bridges repaired.

Some villages complained that — five days after the quake — they had yet to receive any international aid even though they were less than 20 kilometers from the hardest-hit region.

In Topriaten, where only a few houses were left standing, residents said they had only received one bag of rice from local authorities for 140 people. No tents had arrived — scores of villagers were living beneath makeshift tarps.

"I don't know why no one has come yet," said Jemingin, 46, the village elder. "We're not far from the city but it seems we're being ignored."

The temblor that struck soon after dawn Saturday reduced more than 135,000 houses into piles of bricks, tiles and wood in less than a minute, displacing some 647,000 people, said Bambang Priyohadi, a provincial official. He based the figure on an estimation of nearly five family members for each demolished home.

Many are living under plastic sheets close to their former homes, in rice fields or on roadsides, their misery compounded by days of intermittent rain and blazing sun. Others are staying with relatives or friends.

"There are many who are hungry here," said Warjono, sitting beneath a flimsy canvas tarp. Behind him, was a sign that read: "Wirokerten village desperately needs your help."

"We got some government aid, but it wasn't divided equally, and I got very little," said the man, who like many Indonesians only uses one name.

Health was also a pressing issue.

Days after the quake, patients occupied every available spot in the hot, dirty hospital in hardest-hit Bantul district. The stench of urine and trash wafted through the main hall, where more than 150 victims lay on the floor inches apart, a cracked roof overhead.

Many were still wearing the clothes they had on when the massive quake hit.

Indonesia's president, who moved his office immediately after the quake to the nearby city of Yogyakarta, said he had enough confidence in the relief efforts to return to the capital, Jakarta.

"Certainly, a lot more needs to be done," said Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, but he noted that roads had been cleared, the main airport's runway repaired and reopened, and electricity restored in some areas.

Several foreign militaries are also contributing to the relief effort, with Japan saying Thursday it was dispatching 140 troops to provide medical assistance, supplies and other humanitarian support. They were expected to arrive by Friday.

Dozens of U.S. Marines were providing care at a portable field hospital on a soccer field in the town of Sewon — the latest of several American relief missions in predominantly Muslim nations. The U.S. military also helped in Indonesia's Aceh province after the 2004 tsunami and in Pakistan after last year's devastating quake.

Despite the tragic circumstances, one U.S. Marine said the current relief effort could serve as a cultural bridge.

"When you help people, you become friends," said 1st Lt. Eric Tausch, from a U.S. Marine division based in Okinawa, Japan.