PM pledges UK support after tsunami alert

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David Cameron pledged the UK’s support to Indonesia yesterday in the wake of an earthquake off Aceh province as he visited the country.

Speaking at a joint press conference with the Indonesian President in Jakarta, the Prime Minister said the UK “stood ready” to help in any way necessary.

He arrived in Indonesia yesterday morning but reports suggest the 8.9 magnitude earthquake was not felt in the capital.

Mr Cameron said he was “hugely concerned” by news of the quake, telling Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono: “Our thoughts should be with those who are affected.Britain of course stands ready to help if help is required.

“We will stand with you and your government and your people at this time of worry.”

Mr Yudhoyono moved to calm nerves, saying that there appeared to be no serious casualties and local residents had been taken to safety. He added that “as of this time there is no threat of tsunami” – despite an international warning being issued.

Mr Cameron also announced that he had invited Mr Yudhoyono to make a state visit to the UK this autumn.

Mr Yudhoyono said the tremor originated at a depth of six miles (10km), 311 miles (500km) from Aceh. It was initially estimated at magnitude 8.9 but was later downgraded.

“The people of Aceh have been able to go to safe places,” he said. “The situation is being managed well... We will take all necessary measures.”

He added: “The situation is under control so far. It is a very different situation from 2004 when Aceh was faced with a deadly tsunami.”

Answering questions, Mr Cameron said Indonesia could signpost the way to democracy for countries in the Middle East and North Africa which have overthrown dictators. He said: “Where countries are freeing themselves from autocratic leaders and asking can we make the step towards democracy, as countries that are predominantly Muslim, Indonesia provides the answer – yes you can.

“That is a very powerful message and that is what I am going to be speaking about at one of your universities.”

The Prime Minister also said Indonesia would become an increasingly powerful regional player, one which countries around the world should consider when making decisions.