Indonesia Quake Toll Crosses 1,000

Rescue workers are trying to find survivors from Wednesday's earthquake that hit Indonesia, killing more than 1,000 people. BBC reporter Rachel Harvey, who is in Padang, a city of 900,000 people, says parts of the city are unaffected while other parts are devastated.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

We're overwhelmed with victims. That plea for help from the mayor of the Indonesian city Padang, which took the brunt of the 7.6 magnitude earthquake yesterday. The United Nations says the quake has killed more than 1,100 people and hundreds more are believed trapped in the rubble. Today, the region was wrath again by another earthquake.

BLOCK: BBC reporter Rachel Harvey is in Padang. It's a city of about 900,000 people and Rachel describe, if you can, the scale of the destruction you've seen there.

Ms. RACHEL HARVEY (Reporter, BBC): Well, it's kind of patchy. There are some areas that looked, to be honest, as if nothing has happened at all. It's really quite surreal and then five minutes down the road you come to an area that's been absolutely devastated. Where I am now, which is in downtown Padang, there is a big old colonial hotel, an Old Dutch colonial hotel, that I'm looking at right now. And it was once a really beautiful old building, but it's completely wrecked - the central section which is just rubble.

And that really bizarre sense that there were people there not too long ago. I can see a desk that's just kind of hanging out of a gaping hole and there is still a few ornaments on top of it that don't seem to have been disturbed. And there were perhaps as many as 80 people that they still think may be buried under the rubble in this hotel. Apparently there was a children's swimming lesson going on at the time and they haven't accounted for all of those children yet either. There's a lot of activity going on with bulldozers and diggers, just trying to clear away the rubble.

BLOCK: Have Indonesian authorities been able to get rescue workers, heavy equipment in to do those searches that you're talking about?

Ms. HARVEY: They've got some, but clearly not enough. I came in on a flight that was just after a team that brought in some medical staff from Jakarta. I was talking to one of the doctors. They'd brought in with them some basic medical supplies, some high energy biscuits, some water, some baby food. But it was really just a drop in the ocean. They haven't got enough of the aid through here. Now, in part, in fairness, that's because they say they have to make a proper assessment first. There's no point in just flooding this place with aid. They say we've got to make a proper assessment and work out exactly what is needed where. There are still areas that they haven't managed to get to. Now that's because in the aftermath of the earthquake, there were a few localized landslides. So, some roads are still blocked. Some roads and bridges have been damaged. The president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, was here earlier today and he said, yes, we do welcome assistance from other countries but Indonesia will take the lead on this. Indonesia will coordinate the humanitarian relief effort.

BLOCK: And are the rescue workers who are there finding some people alive in the rubble?

Ms. HARVEY: Yes, miraculously they still are. I was just talking to a policeman down at one of the worst effected areas. He'd been on the scene all day and he said they had still been pulling some people from the rubble - sadly, of course, also pulling some dead bodies from the rubble. But there were still people they were finding alive. The longer that time goes by, the more unlikely it is in all honesty that more people will be found alive. But they are absolutely determined to try as hard as they can to move that rubble to try and reach anybody that might have even the slightest chance of still surviving to this point.

But it's very weird. Where I'm sitting now, there are scooters, motorbikes and cars going past. So some parts of town, it feels as if life is going on as normal. And of course in other parts, life has been absolutely tragically devastated.

BLOCK: And are you seeing a lot of people seeking shelter just outside in the street, afraid to go back to their homes?

Ms. HARVEY: Definitely. There are many, many hundreds of people that I've seen outside. Some of them say they're just too scared to go back inside. There has been a number of very strong aftershocks here. Now, some people are just too scared, other people of course don't have homes to go to. But there are crowds of people at the major devastated parts of town that are just looking on, watching the rescue operation and perhaps hoping and praying that they might see another miracle, another person pulled alive from the rubble.

BLOCK: Rachel Harvey, thank you very much for talking with us.

Ms. HARVEY: It's a pleasure.

BLOCK: That's BBC reporter Rachel Harvey speaking us with from Padang in Western Indonesia.

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Second Quake Slams Indonesia; Hundreds Dead

  • Indonesian students walk past the rubble of the Amberchang Hotel Monday on their way to school for the first time since a pair of earthquakes struck Padang, Indonesia on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.
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    Indonesian students walk past the rubble of the Amberchang Hotel Monday on their way to school for the first time since a pair of earthquakes struck Padang, Indonesia on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.
    Kevin Frayer/AP
  • An Indonesian man holds up the injured legs of his daughter as she waits for medical treatment at a U.S. field hospital Wednesday in Padang. International aid flowed into Indonesia as schools and shops re-opened.
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    An Indonesian man holds up the injured legs of his daughter as she waits for medical treatment at a U.S. field hospital Wednesday in Padang. International aid flowed into Indonesia as schools and shops re-opened.
    Bay Ismoyo/AFP/Getty Images
  • U.S. soldiers erect a makeshift tent for their medical support base to give assistance to quake victims near the M. Jamil hospital Tuesday in Padang. The US Pacific Command flew two C-17 military transport aircraft to Padang with materials for the field hospital.
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    U.S. soldiers erect a makeshift tent for their medical support base to give assistance to quake victims near the M. Jamil hospital Tuesday in Padang. The US Pacific Command flew two C-17 military transport aircraft to Padang with materials for the field hospital.
    Bay Ismoyo/AFP/Getty Images
  • Rescue volunteers cover a body before removing it from an area severely hit by landslides in the Sumatran Island village of Jumanak, on Sun., Oct. 4.
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    Rescue volunteers cover a body before removing it from an area severely hit by landslides in the Sumatran Island village of Jumanak, on Sun., Oct. 4.
    Kevin Frayer/AP
  • Volunteers prepare relief aid in Padang, on Fri., Oct. 2.
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    Volunteers prepare relief aid in Padang, on Fri., Oct. 2.
    Bay Ismoyo/AFP/Getty Images
  • Here, residents walk through a street in Padang, a city of 900,000 and the capital of the West Sumatra province Thurs., Oct. 1.
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    Here, residents walk through a street in Padang, a city of 900,000 and the capital of the West Sumatra province Thurs., Oct. 1.
    Dita Alangkara/AP
  • Indonesian soldiers search for survivors in a crumbled building Thurs., Oct. 1 in Padang, Sumatra. Officials said that 376 people have died and more than 400 were seriously injured.
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    Indonesian soldiers search for survivors in a crumbled building Thurs., Oct. 1 in Padang, Sumatra. Officials said that 376 people have died and more than 400 were seriously injured.
    Adek Berry/AFP/Getty Images
  • An Indonesian man salvages belongings from his destroyed home Thurs., Oct. 1 in Padang.
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    An Indonesian man salvages belongings from his destroyed home Thurs., Oct. 1 in Padang.
    Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images
  • Thousands of people were trapped in the rubble. Here, people search victims from a collapsed shop Thurs., Oct. 1 in Padang.
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    Thousands of people were trapped in the rubble. Here, people search victims from a collapsed shop Thurs., Oct. 1 in Padang.
    Bay Ismoyo/AFP/Getty Images
  • A woman walks past a collapsed hotel Thurs., Oct. 1 in Padang. More than 500 buildings were destroyed or damaged by the earthquakes.
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    A woman walks past a collapsed hotel Thurs., Oct. 1 in Padang. More than 500 buildings were destroyed or damaged by the earthquakes.
    Bay Ismoyo/AFP/Getty Images

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Rescue workers in Indonesia hurried to clear debris and reach survivors of a pair of powerful earthquakes that struck the island of Sumatra and killed hundreds of people.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the second quake hit Thursday about 135 miles southeast of the coastal city of Padang and measured 6.6.

Earth movers were extricating victims trapped under the rubble from a 7.6 magnitude offshore quake that hit the day before. Terrified residents who spent a restless night sleeping outdoors were jolted by the apparent aftershock Thursday morning.

Authorities said most of the dead came from Padang, a city of 900,000 and the capital of West Sumatra province, while the remaining fatalities were spread across four other districts on the island.

Government figures put the number of dead at 777, with nearly 2,100 people seriously injured. John Holmes, the U.N.'s humanitarian chief, set the death toll at 1,100, and the number was expected to grow.

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More than 500 buildings, including hotels, schools, hospitals and a mall were destroyed or damaged in Padang. Thousands of people were believed to be trapped in the rubble.

Friska Yuniwati, a 30-year-old woman, her face covered in bruises, cried out, "Oh God, help me! Help me!" as she was pulled from the wreckage of her house.

At least 80 people were missing at the city's five-story Ambacang Hotel, said Indra, a paramedic who like many Indonesians uses only one name.

At a collapsed local school, rescue workers said six children had been pulled out alive but four others were found dead and an additional 20 children were still missing. Parents of missing students stayed up all night, waiting for signs of life.

"My daughter's face keeps appearing in my eyes ... my mind. I cannot sleep; I'm waiting here to see her again," a woman who identified herself only as Imelda said, tears rolling down her face. She said her 12-year-old daughter, Yolanda, was in the school for science lessons.

"She is a good daughter and very smart. I really love her. Please, God help her," she said.

Padang's main Djamil Hospital was overwhelmed by the influx of casualties. Dozens of injured people were being treated under tents outside the hospital, which was itself partly damaged.

Major Earthquakes

Map showing the location of a 7.9 magnitude earthquake near American Samoa, in the Pacific Ocean.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono warned that authorities should not underestimate the scope of the disaster and ordered the military to deploy all its crisis centers in Jakarta, West Sumatra and North Sumatra provinces. He said the military would provide earth-moving equipment to clear the rubble.

UNICEF said tens of thousands of people had been made homeless, one-third of them children.

"The needs of thousands of children are vast and urgent. They must have access to clean water, shelter," Angela Kearney, the U.N. body's Indonesian chief, said in a statement.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the second quake damaged 1,100 buildings, including mosques and homes, in the town of Jambi, according to Mayor Hasfiah. He said there were no deaths but dozens of people were injured.

The initial quake on Wednesday was so powerful that it caused buildings to sway hundreds of miles away in Malaysia and Singapore and caused panic among people who feared it would trigger a tsunami.

The temblor severed roads and cut off power and communications to Padang, and the extent of damage in surrounding areas was still unclear.

Indonesia, a poor, sprawling nation, sits on a major geological fault zone and is frequently hit by earthquakes. The latest quakes were along the same fault line that spawned the 2004 Asian tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen nations.

In a separate earthquake that hit the Samoan islands on Tuesday, authorities said Thursday that at least 160 people were killed after a series of tsunamis rolled ashore, leveling buildings and washing cars and people out to sea.

From NPR staff and wire reports

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