BALANTIAK, Indonesia (Reuters) – Rescue teams pushed deeper into Indone-sia’s earthquake-hit Sumatra yesterday, finding entire villages obliterated by landslides and survivors desperate for aid three days after the tremor.
In the city of Padang rescuers were still combing through collapsed buildings for thousands of people feared buried beneath the wreckage. The colossal damage that destroyed buildings and roads was hampering the aid effort.
In remoter areas outside Padang the full scale of the disaster was only starting to become clear, with villages wiped out and survivors drinking coconut water after their drinking sources were contaminated.
“In my village, 75 people were buried. There are about 300 people missing from this whole area. We need tents and excavators to get the bodies but the roads are cut off,” said Ogi Martapela, 28, who said his older brother died in the landslide.
Another resident said it was too late for aid.
“Don’t bother trying to bring aid up there,” said Afiwardi, who pointed past a landslide that cut off a road. “Everyone is dead.”
Some villagers used simple wooden hoes in what appeared to be a fruitless attempt to reach bodies beneath the earth.
The aid effort appeared to be cranking up yesterday, but it was yet to reach many areas.
“We have not received a thing. We need food, clothes, blankets, milk. It seems like the government has forgotten about us,” said Siti Armaini, sitting outside her collapsed home in Pariaman, about 40 km (25 miles) north of Padang and nearer to the quake’s epicentre.
The mayor of the badly hit district of Padang Pariaman said by telephone that heavy digging machinery was starting to reach some areas hit by landslides, but that survivors desperately needed tents and blankets after losing their homes.
“We are devastated. Eighty per cent of houses have caved in, roads are split and cracked,” said mayor Muslim Kasim.