Int’l Rescue Teams Leave Padang Indonesia

Relief workers struggled to reach Indonesian quake survivors still without food or shelter a week after the disaster, while foreign rescue teams packed up their high-tech equipment on Wednesday and prepared to pull out.

Aid has been pouring into the shattered West Sumatran city of Padang since the Sept 30 earthquake, but the scale of the disaster, heavy rain and damaged infrastructure have meant it has been slow to reach outlying areas.

Helicopters are often the only way that some communities in the hills around Padang can be reached after landslides triggered by the 7.6 magnitude quake severed roads.

Rescue teams from countries including South Korea, Singapore and Britain were starting on Wednesday to pack up and leave their base in the governor’s house in Padang, as even the faint hope of finding more survivors in buildings reduced to rubble faded.

Work using heavy equipment to bring down half-collapsed buildings in Padang, a port city of 900,000, continued, despite fears many bodies may still be under the rubble. Some schools have reopened, but according Unicef about 1,000 have collapsed or been damaged so some temporary centres in tents have been set up for traumatised children to play.

Indonesia’s official toll from the quake is 704 dead and 295 missing, but the health minister said it could reach 3,000.

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