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Page last updated at 10:25 GMT, Monday, 5 October 2009 11:25 UK

Search ends for Sumatra survivors

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Officials in the earthquake-hit city of Padang, Indonesia, have called off the search for survivors in the rubble of buildings five days after the disaster.

The focus has turned to bringing aid and medical help to survivors in the city and the surrounding areas.

At least 1,000 people have died and at least 1,000 remain missing after the earthquake struck last Wednesday.

A BBC correspondent in Padang says a semblance of normality is starting to return to the city.

Children are returning to makeshift schools, and some businesses are reopening in Padang, the capital of West Sumatra.

Disease fears

There have been no survivors rescued from the rubble since Friday, says the BBC's Karishma Vaswani in Padang.

"The effort to find survivors in Padang was stopped last night but they are still going on outside Padang," Priyadi Kardono, the spokesman for Indonesia's disaster management agency, told AFP news agency.

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

International search and rescue teams said they were preparing to head home after agreeing with the Indonesian government that there was no hope of finding more survivors.

"We got here quickly but we haven't found any survivors," said Hiroaki Sano, the head of Japan's disaster rescue team.

"The first 100 hours are crucial," he told AP news agency.

The Indonesian government and international aid agencies are now focusing on rushing aid to communities outside Padang and on preventing outbreaks of disease from dirty water and the many decomposing bodies still buried in collapsed buildings.

"There is concern that dirty water supplies can spread skin disease and other kinds of diseases," said the head of the Health Ministry's crisis centre.

"Flies on dead bodies can also spread bacteria to people," Rustam Pakaya said.

Mass graves

While international aid and relief workers continued to arrive in Padang, residents of outlying communities said they had received little or no help.

"Yesterday all I had to eat was a packet of instant noodles," said Erol, a resident of the village of Pasa Dama outside Padang.

"All of us are hungry. We hear on the radio very nice words that aid is pouring in, but where is it?"

Many roads and bridges in the hills outside Padang have been destroyed by landslides, which have also buried a number of villages.

Swiss aid workers at the Gama English School  3.10.09
Rescue teams say they are preparing to return home

One provincial relief official said some villages would be left as mass graves.

"Instead of the extra cost of evacuating the corpses, it's better to allocate the money for the living," Ade Edward, the head of West Sumatra's earthquake co-ordination centre, was quoted by Reuters as telling Indonesian media.

Heavy rain has hampered the delivery of aid to survivors outside Padang and increased the chances of further landslides.

But the BBC's Karishma Vaswani, in Padang, says people in the city are beginning to get on with their lives.

On Monday morning, children lined up outside of schools, dressed in their crisp white uniforms, our correspondent says.

"The government called for classes to resume as soon as possible so they can create some normalcy," said Amson Simbolon, an education officer for Unicef.

Some shops and businesses were also seen re-opening in the city as work clearing the destruction left by the quake continued.

Several hundred schools were among more than 180,000 buildings destroyed or badly damaged by the earthquake, Indonesia's Disaster Management Agency has said.

Government minister Aburizal Bakrie estimated it would cost $600m (£375m) to rebuild or repair all the buildings and basic infrastructure damaged by Wednesday's 7.6-magnitude earthquake.


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