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Page last updated at 09:50 GMT, Friday, 2 October 2009 10:50 UK

Sumatra quake survivor pulled from rubble

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Woman rescued after two days

Rescuers have been working around the clock to reach survivors trapped under rubble following a devastating earthquake on the Indonesian island of Sumatra on Wednesday.

A 20-year-old woman is one of the few to have survived after the school she was in collapsed. Sari was pulled from the wreckage more than 40 hours after the earthquake struck.

Rescue teams had to build a tunnel into the debris in order to reach her. A crowd of people who had gathered nearby broke into applause when she was pulled out and taken on a stretcher to a waiting ambulance.

She was covered in dust and her eyes were closed but she was conscious, said soldier Ali Muzer, who had been working for hours at the site where the Prayoga foreign language school once stood.

Five people are known to have died in the building and another woman is believed to be alive in the rubble.

Overpowering smell

Onlookers and relatives of Sari had complained about the lack of equipment and slow progress the emergency teams seemed to be making.

The emergency teams admitted themselves that they were short of the equipment needed for such a dangerous and difficult operation.

Mas Rizal Rabis, a local fire fighter who had been working all night, told AFP news agency that the cavity leading to where the women were trapped was narrow and dark, limiting him to work by torchlight with a small electric drill.

As well as a lack of equipment, little sleep and pressure from anxious families, rescuers are also battling an overpowering smell of decomposition, indicating that many others will be pulled dead from the debris.

"The difficult thing in this rescue is that we are dealing with tonnes and tonnes of material that has piled up," a local firefighter named Dudi said.

"And almost all the victims are trapped in narrow spaces underneath the debris," he told Reuters news agency.

"We have problems with equipment. We need urgently electric cutters and medium-sized excavators to remove the debris," said Febi Dwirahmadi, 28, a public health official with the Red Cross.



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