Page last updated at 18:39 GMT, Thursday, 1 October 2009 19:39 UK

Padang's race against time

A boy stands outside a tent next to his destroyed home (background) after an earthquake in Padang, Sumatra

By Alastair Leithead
BBC News, Padang

It is a desperate race to pull the survivors out from under tons of rubble.

No-one has any idea just how many people are trapped. The rescuers working day and night to pull them free are their only hope.

Many victims are within reach but as yet beyond help. The earthquake brought down many buildings in the city and, until the right equipment arrives to do the heavy lifting, there is a sense of helplessness among those trying to do what they can.

The machinery that is available is rescuing people, but so many buildings have come down, and so many trapped people are desperately waiting for help to come.

The main hospital in Padang, where the injured would normally be brought, has collapsed, trapping many more inside.

The tents set up are treating the injured and many of those pulled from the rubble are badly hurt.

The scale of this disaster is overwhelming everyone. It is difficult to grasp the extent of the damage.

Search and rescue is still the top priority but those who survive are trying to salvage what they can from the rubble. They will need help soon.

The airport has opened and flights carrying aid are starting to arrive.

International organisations have sent urgent supplies and search teams - those trapped can only hold on for a short period of time, in some cases just hours. It is a huge task.

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