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Page last updated at 12:21 GMT, Friday, 2 October 2009 13:21 UK

Shattered Padang tries to cope

A boy walks past a shattered building in Padang, 2 October 2009
Parts of Padang have been devastated by the earthquake

By Rachel Harvey
BBC News, Padang

Downtown Padang has a surreal feel.

The traffic is flowing freely. People are going about their business. Some streets look virtually unscathed by Wednesday's powerful earthquake.

Then you notice the gap in the middle of the row of buildings. One shop still stands while its neighbour has been flattened.

There's been frenetic activity at one such site. A heavy digger swings back and forth moving away the debris from a huge pile of rubble, while soldiers and rescue specialists move gingerly across the surface.

There is a profound sense of shock here, but also the beginnings of some kind of order being brought to bear

Children were taking after-school classes here when the quake struck. As many as 60 youngsters were buried beneath the shattered concrete and a number of bodies were brought out during Friday.

Many of the bodies recovered from collapsed buildings are taken to the grounds of the main hospital. Ambulances arrive every few minutes to deliver corpses.

The neat rows of yellow body bags are growing longer by the hour.

Scared and hurt

Across the road, one main building of the hospital itself has been badly damaged and is now listing precariously.

Blue files of medical notes are scattered among the debris. An adjacent building is still standing but it is running out of room.

People cover their noses as they watch a search in Padang, 2 October 2009
Bodies are decomposing rapidly under the debris

Tents have been erected outside. Patients lie under canvas in the baking heat, their carers using bits of cardboard as fans.

Thirteen-year-old Nisrina is one of the injured. Her foot was crushed and has been amputated above the ankle.

But she was bravely determined to tell me her story in English.

She was sitting an English exam when the tremors started. The school building collapsed on top of her. She was trapped for four hours before police and her father, working together, managed to free her.

"It's so hard to explain," she said. "I didn't believe I would ever be safe. I was so scared."

There is a profound sense of shock here, but also the beginnings of some kind of order being brought to bear on the relief effort.

The Indonesian government has set aside $25 million (£16m) for a two-month emergency operation. More specialist teams and equipment are on the way.

They need to get here quickly.



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