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Death Toll Rises From Indonesia Earthquake

October 1, 2009

Death Toll Rises From Indonesia Earthquake

Jakarta (RPRN) 10/01/09 — By Brian Padden

Western Indonesia was rattled by another severe earthquake a day after a quake trapped thousands of people under collapsed buildings. The death toll has risen to at least 530, and is expected to rise.

Officials say the 7.6 underwater earthquake that occurred near the Indonesian island of Sumatra collapsed at least 500 buildings in the city of Padang. And on Thursday, a magnitude 6.6 quake struck in the same area, alarming survivors.

Hospitals, a hotel and school facilities were among the buildings that were destroyed Wednesday in Padang, which has a population of about 900,000. The quake also started fires, severed roads and cut off power and communications to the area.

The death toll continues to rise as rescue workers race to save those trapped in the rubble, and there are fears it could rise into the thousands.

The mayor of Padang appealed for assistance, saying the city is overwhelmed with victims.

Aid organizations have been arriving. World Vision spokeswoman Laura Blank says its team has arrived and is now assessing the needs.

"It's a little bit tricky because power was cut off, so I think no one knows quite what to expect until we actually get there and find out the extent of the damage," she said.

Blank says World Vision regularly provides earthquake assistance and usually has supplies positioned throughout the country, such as blankets, food, water and medicine, for just such emergencies. But Blank says they have already distributed much of its stores to the victims of the earthquake that hit the island of Java last month.

"The challenge right now is that our emergency pre-positioned supplies were running quite low because the response in West Java was in progress still and that quake had just happened a few weeks ago," added Blank.

Indonesia's government dispatched medical teams and military planes to help with the relief efforts and announced $10 million in emergency response aid.

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