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Last Updated: Sunday, 28 May 2006, 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK
Earthquake 'destroyed on a whim'
Picture taken by Pauline Song during field trip
South west of Yogyakarta is devastated Credit: Oxfam
As UK aid teams battle to get vital supplies to thousands hit by the Indonesian earthquake, one charity worker has spoken of the destruction she has witnessed at first hand.

Paulette Song, who works for Oxfam, had just returned from a field visit to several villages south west of the city of Yogyakarta in central Java - and closer to the epicentre of Saturday's earthquake - when she spoke to BBC News.

"When you go south west you really see the devastation, and the hospitals are full to capacity," she said.

A lack of clean water, electricity, food and medical supplies, as well as not enough protection from the elements, were all issues facing survivors.

There were "literally" fault lines in the roads caused by the earthquake, she said.

However, while many buildings were destroyed, or partially destroyed, some were still standing.

Certainly in more rural and removed areas there is no power and water is an issue
Paulette Song

"It really was a whim of the earthquake," she said.

"One of the villages I went to had a clean drinking water well and the buildings weren't that severely damaged, but there was very little food for the villagers.

"The devastation takes many different forms."

She said the roads were still mostly operational, which was a "large help" in providing emergency supplies.

However, a lack of communication and power lines had led to a lot of delays - particularly in isolated areas.

Oxfam was continuing its assessment, and would adjust its plans accordingly, she said.

"As an agency Oxfam has been very well prepared, but that's because we have prepared already for Mount Merapi [the nearby volcano which is threatening to erupt]," she said.

"We are co-ordinating with government agencies and NGOs to get people what they need."

Picture taken by Pauline Song during field trip
Fault lines are visible across many roads Credit: Oxfam

In the meantime they were continuing to truck in clean water and emergency supplies.

"It rains pretty hard overnight. It's important that people who have lost their homes or wanting medical services have tarpaulins to cover them," she said.

In one village, 175 people were living together under just a few tarpaulins, she said.

"At this stage of the emergency medical supplies and assistance are in great demand.

"As we learn more we will learn more about what needs there are.

"Certainly in more rural and removed areas there is no power and water is an issue."

Even so, she had been struck by how welcoming and "smiling" people had been.

"Amazingly, people here are so incredibly resilient and warm despite it all. It is an amazing testament to the power of the human spirit."

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