10/03/2009, 00.00
INDONESIA
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The international community aids the victims of the Sumatra earthquake

Rescuers are racing against time to retrieve survivors still trapped under rubble. 40 hours after the earthquake a girl, buried by the collapse of the boarding school, is saved. European Union, Russia and Australia send essential supplies and food for the survivors, many of whom are sleeping on the streets.

Jakarta (AsiaNews / Agencies) – The first shipments of international aid have arrived in Sumatra destined for the areas worst affected by the earthquake, after an appeal launched by the Indonesian government. Two Australian aircraft with medical personnel and expert emergency teams have landed in Padang, the city hardest hit by the quake, dozens of teams of British fire-fighters are expected in the afternoon. A team with Swiss rescue dogs are already on site, along with staff from Russia, the European Union and Japan.

 

The death toll from the 7.6 magnitude earthquake that struck a wide area of western Sumatra on 30 September, is about 1100 dead and 3 thousand missing, many of whom are still trapped under rubble. Local sources in Padang tell of the stench of rotting corpses coming from the collapsed buildings, while rescuers are racing against time to recover any survivors.   Australia, Russia, United Kingdom and European Union have sent essential supplies, medicines and rescue teams; In various areas food is running low, aid delivery is difficult because roads and bridges were destroyed, many who have lost their homes are forced to sleep on the streets.

Today in Padang, the International Red Cross will hold a summit to coordinate emergency operations, the priority is to ensure medical care to the wounded. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has ordered the immediate distribution of 10 million U.S. dollars in aid, he asks for "patience" and ensures that the population "every effort" will be made to retrieve the missing.  

In this context of death and destruction there are even small signs of hope, such as the rescue of a young girl pulled alive from the rubble of the boarding school, 40 hours after the earthquake. Ratna Kurniasari Virgo, 19, was seriously injured but still alive and should survive. Yesterday a text message with a call for help was sent from beneath the ruins of the Ambacan hotel, rescuers believe that "there are still eight people alive down there, but the rescue operation is extremely delicate: a risky manoeuvre may cause the complete collapse ' of building and crush those who are still trapped in the rubble.

 

 

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