10/05/2009, 00.00
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Search for victims under mud ceases in Sumatra

Search is called off for fears of epidemics. Under the rubble there could still be thousands of bodies. Some small signs of recovery, shops and schools re-open. Lack of resources to treat thousands of wounded.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The authorities in West Sumatra have agreed to abandon their operations to recover the bodies of earthquake victims in an attempt to stop the possible spread of disease. Yesterday afternoon, after a morning of torrential rain, rescue teams continued to dig, recovering dead bodies. In all likelihood, thousands of people remain under the mud and the ruins of collapsed buildings following the earthquake of 7.6 magnitude on 30 September.

There are differences in the victim estimate. The Indonesian government says that for now there are 588 dead and 343 missing. But some prominent government figures still think that there are thousands of bodies trapped under the rubble. The UN has expressed the view that the victims could be up to 4 thousand.

Meanwhile in Padang a few stores are beginning to re-open. Even schools have reopened, but under tents, to help children overcome the shock of the earthquake. Electricity now works at 60%, there is no fuel crisis, but no drinking water.

The worst shortages are in the care of the wounded. In addition to their large number, they lack operating rooms and surgeons. Most of the injured had fractures, but there are no antibiotics, oxygen, orthopaedic instruments and anaesthetics.

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See also
New earthquake. Aid arrives in a devastated Padang
Caritas Thailand sending first aid shipment to Nargis victims
Jakarta seeks international aid for the more than 1000 dead in Sumatra earthquake
Overcrowded hospitals and chaotic relief efforts in Iranian quake disaster
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