Page last updated at 03:41 GMT, Tuesday, 6 October 2009 04:41 UK

Sumatra relief effort increased

Vegetable vendor in Padang - 5 October 2009
Padang residents are trying to restore some normality to life

Nearly a week after a deadly earthquake hit the Indonesian island of Sumatra, efforts are being stepped up to get relief supplies to remote communities.

Some have not yet received any help; others may be left as mass graves as efforts focus on helping the living.

The Red Cross told the BBC that food, shelter and clean water were urgently needed.

More than 1,000 people have died but thousands more are thought to be missing.

Officials in the earthquake-hit city of Padang have now called off the search for survivors - and efforts to find survivors in other areas are also being scaled down.

Global help

Patrick Fuller of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, says electricity and clean water are key

A group of British aid agencies - combined to form the Disasters Emergency Committee - are launching a national appeal to raise funds for those affected by the quake, and by Typhoon Ketsana, which caused widespread destruction in the Philippines and Vietnam last week.

A series of radio and television appeals are to be broadcast in the UK on Tuesday.

The United States is sending aircraft and navy ships to Indonesia, carrying about 45 metric tonnes of relief commodities.

"This includes plastic sheeting, hygiene kits, generators, and this will all be distributed via the Red Cross," the US State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said.

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

US Pacific Command has flown two C-17 military transport aircraft to Padang, with material for a field hospital that will treat as many as 400 people a day, he said.

The USS Denver, an amphibious response vessel with helicopters that will fly to the hardest-hit rural areas, is due to arrive in Padang on Thursday.

Reaching villages

The main task is to reach villages which have yet to receive any help.

"I think in the city there is no real concern over an outbreak of disease. I mean the priority in the city is to get the electricity back on line, to get the water working," said Patrick Fuller, the communications co-ordinator for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

"But our concern is still getting to people in villages, in the rural areas, who haven't been reached yet," he said.

Getting specialist care into Padang is also a focus of aid efforts.

"Basically, I think as more and more of the outlying villages are accessible, more and more of such patients are being sent to this hospital," said a commander at a Singaporean emergency tent hospital.

Indonesian military helicopters are carrying out food drops to remote areas, delivering instant noodles, blankets, milk and dry food, said officials.

Heavy rain since Sunday and thick wet mud is also making it difficult for aid workers to reach the stricken areas, said Gagah Prakoso, a spokesman for the Indonesian Search and Rescue Agency.

Meanwhile, Hiroaki Sano, head of the Japan Disaster Rescue Team, said international search and rescue teams were winding up operations and preparing to go back home.

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

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