Page last updated at 10:50 GMT, Sunday, 4 October 2009 11:50 UK

Hopes dim for quake-hit Sumatra


The BBC's Alastair Leithead visits a destroyed village in Indonesia

Aid workers in quake-hit Sumatra say they are increasingly unlikely to find survivors under the rubble, as they push into devastated remote areas.

Four days after the 7.6 tremor, the scale of the disaster is becoming clear, with entire villages destroyed.

Widespread road damage is preventing teams from reaching many of the injured beyond Padang, a city of 900,000 people that took the full force of the quake.

About 1,000 are known to have died; up to 3,000 more are said to be missing.

While rescue efforts are still concentrated in Padang, concern is increasing about areas outside the city, where the earthquake triggered huge landslides.

The 7.6-magnitude quake devastated a large stretch of Sumatra's coast

In one village, a resident told Reuters news agency on Saturday: "Don't bother trying to bring aid up here. Everyone is dead."

Oxfam worker Ian Bray, who is in Padang, told the BBC aid teams faced huge challenges getting to outlying areas.

"There is a road that is only 25km (15 miles) long outside Padang that usually takes 35 minutes to drive - it now takes 10 hours," he said.

"We're facing huge logistical problems of trying to get to places which are really hit badly and those are the outlying areas."

Villagers contacted by reporters told of hundreds of people missing in each settlement.

"In my village, 75 people were buried. There are about 300 people missing from this whole area," one resident, Ogi Martapela, said.

The BBC's Alastair Leithead, who visited an isolated village north of Padang, says the size of the landslides is astonishing - with soil and trees ripped from the slopes and dumped into valleys.

Waiting for burials

The mayor of Padang Pariaman district, Muslim Kasim, said digging machinery was starting to reach some areas, but that survivors desperately needed tents and blankets.

"We are devastated," he told Reuters. "Eighty per cent of houses have caved in, roads are split and cracked."

First quake struck on Wednesday at 1716 local (1016 GMT) under sea north-west of Padang
Second quake followed on Thursday at 0852 local

Hope is also diminishing in Padang itself, where few buildings have been left undamaged.

A soldier involved in the rescue in the city told Reuters on Saturday: "Yesterday we could hear survivors but today we didn't hear any."

Asked about the rescue effort, Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla said that it was now retrieving bodies.

"We can be sure that they are dead," he said. "Now we are waiting for burials.

Specialist teams from around the world have begun arriving at co-ordination centres in Padang, waiting to be deployed to the field.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has also called for $10m (£6.2m) in government aid to be distributed quickly.

Wednesday's 7.6-magnitude quake struck off the coast of Padang. A second quake of 6.8 struck nearby on Thursday causing panic but no reports of damage or casualties.

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