Indonesia quake obliterates villages, aid needed

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.

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