'This will take long years to restore. It will all take years and will need a major international aid effort. It will need huge capital,' said Omar al- Jawi, a southern leader who stayed aloof from the civil war which ended in the south's defeat.
'They have taken the chairs from the schools . . . they have taken the telephones. All has been stolen. They have even stolen cranes from the port,' said Mr Jawi, chosen by residents to head a committee for the rescue of Aden, a city of half-a-million.
He said even the city's garbage trucks, like virtually all other public property, had been stolen.
Mr Jawi, an opposition leader, refused to join Ali Salem al-Baidh's breakaway state that collapsed on 6 July when Aden fell to northern troops. He also refused to become vice-president of the breakaway state set up by Mr Baidh on 21 May.
'We have appealed to the president (Ali Abdullah Saleh) to withdraw all armed men and for urgent attention to the water supplies,' said Mr Jawi.