Sumatra quake 'leveled villages'



compiled by Dee Finney


EARTHQUAKE on 01/10/2009 at 01:52 (UTC)
SOUTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA            35 km SW Sungaidilin


Data provided by: BEO  BGSG BUC  GFU  GFZ  JMA  LDG  LED  MSO  NEIC
                  NEWS NOR  PTWC RNS  WAR                          

Latitude    =   2.52 S
Longitude   = 101.66 E
Origin Time =  01:52:28.9 (UTC)
Depth       =  10 Km
RMS         =   1.53 sec
Gap         =  35 degrees
95% confidence ellipse: - Semi major = 9.5 Km
                        - Semi minor = 5.0 Km
                        - Azimuth of major axis =  44 degrees

Number of data used = 204

Preliminary location computed on Thu Oct  1 02:25:29 2009 (UTC)
Done by Jean-Paul Santoire

Message number: 1254

All magnitudes estimations :
mb6.1 (BEO)   Mw6.7 (BGSG)  mb6.0 (BUC)   M 6.4 (GFZ)  
Mw6.8 (JMA)   mb5.1 (LDG)   mb5.4 (LED)   mb5.6 (MSO)  
M 6.8 (NEIC)  mb6.3 (NOR)   Mw6.8 (PTWC)  mb5.0 (RNS)  
mb5.9 (WAR)                                            

P.S.: For additional information, please contact EMSC at:
             - Email:
             - Web  : (maps available)
             - Fax  : 33 1 69 26 70 00


Thousands trapped under rubble after powerful Indonesia earthquake

Quake brings down hospital, hotels, homes and bridges in Padang, western Sumatra

Television footage shows a foot among the wreckage after a strong earthquake hit Padang in Indonesia. Photograph: Reuters TV

Thousands of people were feared trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings following a powerful earthquake in the Indonesian city of Padang, a senior health ministry official said today.

Rustam Pakaya, the head of the health ministry's disaster centre, said a hospital near the epicentre had also collapsed.

"Jamil hospital collapsed and thousands of people are trapped in the rubble of buildings," Pakaya said.

The magnitude 7.6 quake was centred 32 miles north-west of the city in western Sumatra, said the US geological survey.

An earlier quake prompted a tsunami that struck the Pacific islands of Samoa and American Samoa, killing more than 100 people.

Local reports said the Indonesian quake brought down buildings and bridges, damaged houses and started fires. There were no immediate reports of fatalities but several people were reported injured.

"A number of hotels in Padang have been destroyed," Rahmat Triyono, of the Indonesian geophysics and meteorology agency was quoted as saying by the Jakarta Post. "Up to now we haven't been able to reach Padang. Communications have been cut."

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre issued an alert but later cancelled it. Tremors from the quake were said to have been felt in Malaysia and Singapore.

A 6.2-magnitude aftershock followed the initial quake about 22 minutes later, the meteorological agency said.

The earthquake came hours after another quake triggered a tsunami that left at least 100 people dead on the Pacific islands of Samoa and American Samoa.

A resident described the scene to Indonesia's Metro Television. "For now I can't see dead bodies, just collapsed houses. Some half-destroyed, others completely. People are standing around too scared to go back inside. They fear a tsunami.

"No help has arrived yet. I can see small children standing around carrying blankets. Some people are looking for relatives but all the lights have gone out completely."

Other eyewitness accounts said people fled on to the streets as buildings collapsed.

"Hundreds of houses have been damaged along the road," Reuters quoted a witness as saying. "There are some fires, bridges are cut and there is extreme panic here because water pipes are broken and there is flooding in the streets."

Padang, a city of 900,000 people, sits on one of the world's most active faultlines along the "ring of fire", where the Indo-Australia plate and the Eurasia tectonic plate grind together to cause frequent tremors and, occasionally, large earthquakes.

The same faultline caused the 2004 tsunami in which 232,000 people died in Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India and other countries across the Indian Ocean.

"Padang sits right in front of the area with the greatest potential for an 8.9 magnitude earthquake," Danny Hilman Natawidjaja, a geologist at the Indonesian Science Institute, said earlier this year. "The entire city could drown in a tsunami triggered by such a quake,." he added.


Deadly Quake Rocks Western Indonesia

JAKARTA, Indonesia (Sept. 30) - A powerful earthquake rocked western Indonesia Wednesday, trapping thousands under collapsed buildings — including two hospitals — and triggering landslides. At least 75 people were killed on Sumatra island and the death toll was expected to rise sharply.
The magnitude 7.6 quake struck at 5:15 p.m. local time (6:15 a.m. EDT), just off the coast of Padang city the U.S. Geological Survey said. It was along the same fault line that spawned the massive 2004 Asian tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people in a dozen countries.
A tsunami warning for countries along the Indian Ocean was issued, and panicked residents fled to higher ground fearing giant waves. The warning was lifted about an hour later.
Initial reports received by the government said 75 people were killed, but the real number is "definitely higher than that," Vice President Jusuf Kalla told reporters in the capital, Jakarta.
"It's hard to tell because there is heavy rain and a blackout," he said.
Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari told MetroTV that a mall and two hospitals had collapsed in Padang — a sprawling low-lying city in Western Sumatra province of around 900,000 that geologists have warned could be vulnerable to a massive quake or tsunami.
"This is a high-scale disaster, more powerful than the earthquake in Yogyakarta in 2006" when more than 3,000 people died," Supari said, referring to a major city on the main island of Java.
Rustam Pakaya, head of the Health Ministry's crisis center, said "thousands of people are trapped under the collapsed houses."
A field hospital was being prepared to assist the injured and medical teams were on the way from neighboring provinces, he said.
"Many buildings are badly damaged, including hotels and mosques," said Wandono, an official at Meteorology and Geophysics Agency in Jakarta, citing reports from residents.
Footage from Padang showed flattened buildings, the foot of one person sticking out from beneath the debris.
"The earthquake was very strong," said Kasmiati, who lives on the coast near to the epicenter. "People ran to high ground. Houses and buildings were badly damaged."
"I was outside, so I am safe, but my children at home were injured," she said before her cell phone went dead.
TV One network said the quake triggered landslides that cut all roads to Padang. Power and telecommunications were also cut. Fire also broke out in buildings on a road to the city, officials said.
"I want to know what happened to my sister and her husband," said Fitra Jaya, who owns a house in downtown Padang and was in Jakarta when the quake struck. "I tried to call my family there, but I could not reach anyone at all."
Wednesday's quake came a day after a quake with a magnitude of between 8.0 and 8.3 in the South Pacific hurled a massive tsunami at the shores of Samoa and American Samoa, flattening villages and leaving at least 99 dead and dozens missing.
The epicenter of Wednesday's temblor off Indonesia lies several thousand miles to the west, on the other side of Australia.
The shaking could be felt in high buildings in Jakarta, several hundred miles away. It was also felt in neighboring Singapore and Malaysia.|
Padang was badly hit by an 8.4 magnitude quake in September 2007, when dozens of people died and several large buildings collapsed.
AP reporters Ali Kotarumalos, Irwan Firdaus contributed to this article.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.
Great Earthquakes In Diverse Places

More than 1,000 feared dead in Sumatra earthquake*

More than 1,000 people were feared dead and many more trapped under
collapsed buildings last night after a powerful earthquake hit the
Indonesian island of Sumatra.

By Aislinn Laing
Published: 7:46PM BST 30 Sep 2009

Earthquake survivors receive medical treatment at a hospital in Padang
Photo: AP

Hundreds of homes and businesses were reduced to rubble when the
earthquake struck near the city of Padang, along the same fault line
that caused the 2004 Asian tsunami.

The 7.6 magnitude tremor came at 5.16pm local time and could be felt in
high buildings in the capital, Jakarta, several hundred miles away, and
in neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia. A tsunami alert was sent out to
countries along the Indian Ocean, prompting many to flee to higher ground.

The quake was followed by dozens of aftershocks, two of which were over

It came just hours after another earthquake sparked a tsumani
devastating the Pacific islands of American and Western Samoa to the
east of Australia.

The Indonesian death toll was initially set at 200 but health ministry
crisis centre head Rustam Pakaya gave warning it could exceed 1,000 in
the city of close to one million residents.

Aburizal Bakrie, the welfare minister, later told the authorities to
prepare for the worst. He said damage could be on a par with an
earthquake in the central Java city of Yogyakarta in 2006 that killed
6,000 people and damaged or destroyed 150,000 homes.

Thousands of people were trapped as buildings, roads and bridges
collapsed and a landslide cut power and telecommunications, resulting in
further confusion.

The crisis was exacerbated by the collapse of the city's main hospital
and fires which broke out as power lines were severed. Three military
transport planes in the capital were prepared to deliver aid including
tents, blankets and medicine.

There were also fears the tremors could trigger volcanic eruptions near
Padang, which lies near the colliding Indo-Australian and Eurasian
tectonic plates.

A spokesman for the Geological Disaster Mitigation and Volcanology
Centre said: "There will be aftershocks but it's difficult to predict
whether there will be a bigger quake.

"There are three big volcanoes in West Sumatra – Merapi, Talang and
Tandikat. We fear that this quake might cause volcanic eruptions there."

World Vision's Indonesian emergency head Jimmy Nadapdap said the charity
would attempt to send out a disaster survey team to the affected area
today (thurs).

"It is critical that we get people into the quake zone as soon as
possible to find out what has happened," he said. "If buildings have
collapsed then people are likely to be in urgent need of food, water and
especially shelter. The injured will also need medical assistance."

A resident of Padang city, Yuliarni, said the shaking was "the worst I
have ever felt".

"Houses have collapsed, the lights and electricity were cut off, people
were fleeing to higher ground and some were hurt," she added.

Padang, the capital of Indonesia's West Sumatra province, sits on one of
the world's most active fault lines along the "Ring of Fire" where the
Into-Australia plate grinds against the Eurasia plate to create regular
earth tremors.

Geologists warned that Padang was vulnerable to more quakes and
tsunamis, and even a volcanic eruption.

"There will be aftershocks but it's difficult to predict whether there
will be a bigger quake," the unnamed head of Indonesia's Geological
Disaster Mitigation and Volcanology Centre said.

"There are three big volcanoes in West Sumatra – Merapi, Talang and
Tandikat. We fear that this quake might cause volcanic eruptions there."

A 9.15 magnitude quake, with its epicentre roughly 600km (373 miles)
northwest of Padang, caused the 2004 tsunami which killed 232,000 people
in Indonesia's Aceh province, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, and other
countries across the Indian Ocean.

At Least 464 Die as Quake Hits Indonesia Island

Dita Alangkara/Associated Press

Residents walked through an area damaged by the earthquake in Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia, on Thursday.

Published: October 1, 2009

HONG KONG — The Indonesian city of Padang was in chaos on Thursday — fires burning, sirens blaring, dazed residents wandering the streets, thousands of people reportedly trapped beneath the rubble of collapsed buildings — after a powerful earthquake struck the island of Sumatra.


Muhammad Fitrah/Singgalang Newspaper, via Reuters

A collapsed building in Padang, on Indonesia's Sumatra island.

The quake, which hit Wednesday evening just off Padang with a magnitude of 7.6, has killed at least 464 people, according to a statement from the Social Affairs Ministry. The death toll was almost certain to rise, officials said, as rescuers dig into collapsed homes, hospitals, offices and a school.

On Thursday morning, just as the airport was reopening and rescue teams were setting to their heavy, horrible work, the city was rattled by another quake, this one registering 6.6.

The epicenter was 140 miles southeast of the Padang quake, according to the United States Geological Survey. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center quickly issued a bulletin saying that the quake had struck “too far inland to generate a destructive tsunami in the Indian Ocean.”

Padang, a port city of 900,000, is on the west-central coast of Sumatra, Indonesia’s largest island. The western coast is stippled with dozens of volcanoes, and Padang also sits alongside the Sunda Trench, part of the notorious Ring of Fire, the volatile network of volcanic arcs and oceanic trenches that partly encircle the Pacific Basin. The ring — and Sumatra in particular — is a zone of frequent earthquakes and volcanic activity.

Elsewhere in the basin, on Tuesday, an underwater earthquake measuring 8.0 created a tsunami that sent massive walls of water crashing into the islands of Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga.

Reports from government officials, the police, aid workers and news agencies showed Thursday that at least 154 people had been killed by the tsunami — 115 on Samoa, 30 on American Samoa and 9 on Tonga.

The prime minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Sailele, while visiting one inundated village, witnessed the discovery of two dead bodies — a mother and a 12-year-old boy.

“It was shocking,” he said in an interview with Radio New Zealand. “The devastation that has been caused is complete. All this was achieved in 10 minutes.”

There also were reports of 145 people injured, some of them critically, and dozens of villages were demolished throughout the islands. Many beachside resorts were wiped out, along with homes, boats and businesses. Widespread devastation also was seen on television footage from the American Samoan capital, Pago Pago.

“It is the worst one we have had,” said Lilo Malava, the police commissioner of Samoa, in a telephone interview.

The tsunami — described by the governor of American Samoa as a series of four major waves — arrived with so little warning that many residents and tourists were caught unawares.

Filipo Ilaoa, deputy director of the American Samoa office in Honolulu, said that the tsunami struck the territory’s coast in “a matter of minutes” after the quake and that many residents would not have had much time to run for higher ground.

“American Samoa is a small island, and most of the residents are around the coastline,” he said. “There was no warning or anything at all. By the time the alert was out of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, it had already hit.”

New Zealand and Australia dispatched cargo flights and observation planes to the Samoas. And President Barack Obama authorized federal funds to supplement local relief and recovery efforts on American Samoa, a U.S. territory.

The epicenters of the Samoan and Indonesian quakes were located about 6,000 miles apart but brought back vivid memories of the horrific tsunami that ravaged South Asia and Southeast Asia on December 26, 2004. Nearly a quarter-million people across the Indian Ocean region were killed.

The undersea earthquake that caused the Samoan tsunami and the Wednesday-evening quake in Indonesia, while from similar causes, were not directly connected, according to Julie Dutton, a geophysicist at the National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colorado.

Both occurred in spots where one plate of the earth’s crust is subducting, or sliding beneath another plate. In spots, the two plates can become stuck until accumulating pressure leads to a sudden heaving release of energy. Under the sea, if the quake is around a magnitude of 8.0 or stronger and the seabed shifts in a way that moves a lot of water, the result is the high-energy waves of a tsunami.

The deeper the epicenter under the seabed, the less potential there is for a tsunami. In Sumatra, the depth of the epicenter was 49.7 miles, according to the United States Geological Survey. In Samoa, it was just 11.2 miles below the seabed. For coastal areas close to the epicenter of a strong undersea earthquake, there is also little time for a formal tsunami warning to be sounded, Ms. Dutton said.

The United States was concentrating its rescue efforts on American Samoa, sending two cargo planes from Honolulu to the area on Wednesday, said Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“We’re looking at both an airlift and a sealift,” Mr. Fugate told reporters in a conference call. “This will not be a short-term response.”

Mr. Fugate said that it was clear the tsunami had caused a “major disaster” but that it was too early for his office to provide or confirm estimates of deaths, injuries or property damage.

In Sumatra on Wednesday, officials feared the death toll was likely to rise. Priyadi Kardono, a spokesman for the National Disaster Management Agency, said Thursday that at least 200 people had died.

Mark McDonald reported from Hong Kong, and Liz Robbins from New York. Reporting was contributed by Norimitsu Onishi from Jakarta, Indonesia; Brian Knowlton from Washington; Meraiah Foley from Sydney, Australia; and Andrew C. Revkin from New York.

Powerful Quakes Upend Lives of Thousands

Landslides Trap Scores in Indonesia; Tsunami Unleashes Havoc in the Samoas

Tsunami Strikes Pacific Islands
A tsunami triggered by an earthquake in the Pacific Ocean near the island of Samoa sent people fleeing to higher ground to escape rapidly rising waters. About 100 people were killed and dozens remain missing after the massive waves landed.
From News Services
Thursday, October 1, 2009

Thousands of people on Wednesday grappled with the devastation caused by two powerful earthquakes, with landslides leaving scores trapped in rubble in Indonesia and a tsunami in the Samoas flattening villages and sweeping some residents out to sea.
Officials in Indonesia reported finding 200 bodies and said the toll was likely to be much higher, while at least 119 people were killed in the Samoan region.

The Indonesia quake, with a magnitude of 7.6, hit at 5:15 p.m. local time Wednesday. It knocked down buildings, started fires, destroyed roads, and cut off power and communications to Padang, a coastal city of 900,000 on Sumatra island. Buildings swayed hundreds of miles away in neighboring Malaysia and Singapore.

In sprawling, low-lying Padang, the shaking was so intense that people crouched or sat on the street to avoid falling. Children screamed as thousands of people tried to get away from the coast in cars and on motorbikes, honking horns.

The quake occurred a day after a killer tsunami hit islands in the South Pacific. It was along the same fault line that spawned the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed 230,000 people in 11 nations.

In Samoa, the tsunami was caused by a magnitude-8.0 quake that unleashed four waves 15 to 20 feet high. They roared ashore within minutes of the temblor, which hit at 6:48 a.m. local time Tuesday, and spread a mile inland authorities said.

On Tuesday evening, President Obama issued a major disaster declaration for American Samoa, which is about 120 miles from the quake's epicenter, and the first U.S. relief flight arrived Wednesday in the island's capital, Pago Pago, where debris had to be cleared from the runway.

The C-130 cargo flight out of Hawaii carried supplies and emergency officials, and it was to be followed Wednesday by a Navy frigate and a second plane carrying food, water, medicine, and medical supplies and personnel, said W. Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"Our focus is on life safety, life sustainment and getting resources in there to support the governor and his team," Fugate said in a telephone briefing with reporters, referring to Gov. Togiola Tulafono. "Our focus is on the immediate needs of the injured and the thousands, tens of thousands of survivors down there," he added.

Time and distance will constrain the U.S. response. American Samoa is roughly 2,300 miles southwest of Hawaii and 4,500 miles from the west coast of the United States, he said.

U.S. officials said they expect to provide relief materials for weeks by sea as well as more urgent materials by air. "This will not be a short-term response based on reports of damage," Fugate said.

In Pago Pago, the streets and fields were filled with debris, mud, overturned cars and several boats as a major cleanup effort stretched into the night. Several buildings in the city -- just a few feet above sea level -- were flattened. Power was expected to be out in some areas for up to a month.

Water service has been restored to many villages, but power is still out in most areas. More than 1,000 people spent the night in 15 emergency shelters.

After the earthquake in Indonesia on Wednesday, a tsunami warning was issued for countries along the Indian Ocean, but it proved unnecessary. There were no reports of giant waves in western Indonesia, but the destruction was vast. Early Thursday, a shallow inland earthquake struck, with a preliminary magnitude of 6.8, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

Wednesday's earthquake flattened buildings and felled trees in Padang, damaged mosques and hotels, and crushed cars. In the gathering darkness shortly after the quake, residents fought some fires with buckets of water and used their bare hands to search for survivors, pulling at the wreckage and tossing it away piece by piece.

"This is a high-scale disaster, more powerful than the earthquake in Yogyakarta in 2006, when more than 3,000 people died," Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari said, referring to a major city on the main Indonesian island of Java.

Staff writer Spencer S. Hsu in Washington contributed to this report.


Sumatra quake 'leveled villages'

Thousands of people may have died in remote village areas when a powerful earthquake struck Sumatra last week, emergency workers and officials fear.

Some villages were completely destroyed in landslides, with access roads torn apart by the quake preventing medical teams reaching the injured.

Aid is now arriving in Indonesia, but hopes are fading of finding survivors in the worst-hit city of Padang.

More than 1,000 people have died in the city. About 3,000 others are missing.

Australian, British, Japanese and South Korean rescuers have arrived in Indonesia and the EU and Russia are also sending help.

But while rescue efforts are still concentrated in Padang, there are serious concerns that it may be too late to save most of those missing, presumed trapped beneath the city's collapsed concrete buildings.

Instead the focus is shifting to emerging stories of widespread destruction in areas outside the city.


The 7.6-magnitude quake devastated a large stretch of Sumatra's coast


At least 600 people are believed to be missing in villages north of Padang.

"All the houses seem to have been swallowed by earth," a health ministry official in the village of Pulau Aik told the Associated Press.

Villagers contacted by reporters told of hundreds of people missing in each settlement.

"In my village, 75 people were buried. There are about 300 people missing from this whole area. We need tents and excavators to get the bodies but the roads are cut off," one villager, Ogi Martapela, told Reuters.

One Red Cross worker, Testos, told Reuters his team needed medicines, drinking water and clothes to take to those left homeless by the quake.

But access to these areas remains difficult, and few details are known yet of the extent of the destruction or the loss of life.

Local TV stations have begun to reach some of the affected areas, broadcasting images of villages reduced to rubble and tales of villagers without access to clean water.

"We have not received a thing. We need food, clothes, blankets, milk. It seems like the government has forgotten about us," Reuters quoted one woman, Siti Armaini, as saying in Pariaman, 40km (25 miles) north of Padang.

Hope dwindles

In Padang, witnesses report that the stench of decomposing bodies now hangs over collapsed buildings as rescuers battle to reach survivors.

First quake struck on Wednesday at 1716 local (1016 GMT) under sea north-west of Padang
Second quake followed on Thursday at 0852 local

At the collapsed wreckage of a hotel, rescuers worked frantically on Saturday to find any of eight people thought to have survived Wednesday's earthquake.

One person trapped in the ruins of the Ambacang Hotel sent a text message to a relative on Friday asking for help, rescuers revealed.

Those trapped were believed to be on what was the 6th floor. But by mid-afternoon in Padang none of the eight had been located.

The head of a Japanese search and rescue team said his men and dogs had found "no signs of life".

"Our dogs are trained to smell for living people, not the dead, and they didn't sense anything," Hidehiro Murase told AP.

Specialist teams from around the world have begun arriving at co-ordination centres in Padang, waiting to be deployed to the field.

The Red Cross planned to hold a meeting in the city on Saturday to co-ordinate relief efforts.

The priority is to ensure injured survivors receive the medical attention they needed, Red Cross officials say.

Two Australian planes carrying medical personnel and rescue experts have arrived in Padang, with dozens of British firefighters - delayed for 24 hours by a broken-down plane - due to join a 16-man charity deployment late on Saturday.

As well as the Japanese, a Swiss sniffer-dog team is already on the ground, and Russian and Estonian personnel have all been sent. Countries around the world have pledged relief funds.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has also called for $10m (£6.2m) in government aid to be distributed quickly.

"The... fund has to flow quickly, no more bureaucracy for this," he said. "This is an emergency, so speed is crucial."

Wednesday's 7.6-magnitude quake struck off the coast of Padang and caused devastation. A second quake of 6.8 struck nearby on Thursday causing panic but no reports of damage or casualties.

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Chance of Finding Sumatra Earthquake Survivors Is ‘Almost Zero’

By Soraya Permatasari

Oct. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Three days after an earthquake devastated the Indonesian town of Padang on Sumatra’s west coast, the chance of finding any survivors is “almost zero,” the national search and rescue agency said.

“Life detectors, which detect heartbeat, have shown there isn’t anyone alive underneath the rubble of most high-rise buildings in Padang,” Gagah Prakoso, spokesman for the Indonesian Search and Rescue Agency, said today at an operation center in the city. “We have used detectors, dogs, even bare hands, every means possible to search for any survivors, but I have to say that the chance is almost zero by now.”

The death toll from the 7.6-magitude temblor that leveled homes, mosques and hotels in the coastal city of about 800,000 was 496 people as of today, Priyadi Kardono, a spokesman at the National Disaster Management Agency in Jakarta, said by phone. “Many thousands more” are trapped under crushed buildings, the United Nations said in a statement on its Web site.

Governments around the world have provided money and other aid such as medicine, tents, food and search teams with sniffer dogs. Still, time, weather and the number of destroyed buildings ensure the death toll will rise significantly.

“Realistically it is very, very difficult for anyone to still be alive after being trapped without water and food under the rubble for so long,” Prakoso said.

There were 125 people, including guests and participants in two seminars, staying at the 140-room Ambacang hotel when it was destroyed in the earthquake, Sarana Aji, the hotel’s general manager, said in an interview in Padang. Teams have recovered 29 bodies from the hotel, he said. One survivor was rescued yesterday, he said.

Decomposing Bodies

The smell of decomposing bodies was strong near what used to be the swimming pool on the Ambacang’s second floor, now lying shattered on the ground. Five excavating machines moved chunks of broken concrete and steel reinforcing bar that used to form the floors and walls of the destroyed building.

“I urge everyone to accept the possibility that the trapped victims may not survive,” Aji said. “Our focus remains to find survivors, though the chance is getting slim.”

Elsewhere in Padang, stores and small restaurants began to resume operations, providing much needed service in the devastated town that has been paralyzed for the past three days. Some hotels and hospitals were running on electricity provided by their own generators, as power in the city was still unavailable. Long queues formed at filling stations as people hoped to obtain scarce gasoline.

‘The Earth Shook Violently’

Nursim Salam, 55, a teacher at LBA Lia school in Padang, was trapped underneath the collapsed school for three hours.

“The earth shook violently,” Salam said in an interview. “I quickly told my students to run out of the building when pieces of brick walls started to crumble, but it was too late. There was a loud noise, then the roof collapsed. Everything was dark and it was difficult to breathe.”

Salam and four students were on the second floor of the school when the building collapsed.

“We had to crawl from one empty space to another,” Salam said. “Hours later I saw a blinking light coming from the other side so I made my way there and saw someone holding a cell phone. It was a student from another class. With the help from the cell-phone light, we made our way down slowly to the lobby because we were on the second floor, but after everything collapsed we were on the ground.”

“Eventually we heard some people outside and screamed for help. They gave us drinks and a bit of food and stayed with us until we were rescued about one hour later. My throat feels so dry, even now I have to keep drinking or it gets very dry. It could be the dust.”

Doctors Struggling

Doctors trying to treat hundreds of injured survivors are running out of medicine, and damage to hospitals has left them without sufficient space to operate.

At the M Jamil Hospital, the biggest public hospital in Padang, doctors are overwhelmed by critically injured people and the bodies of those who didn’t survive.

“These bodies are not so easy to identify because they aren’t complete,” Asril Zahari, 57, the hospital’s head medical coordinator, said yesterday. “We received 92 of them in total. Most of them were claimed by their families already except for these 10. They are from the Ambacang hotel and Aldira Motor,” he said, referring to an auto showroom in the town.

“We treated 250 patients and operated on 120 of them,” Zahari said. “Many of them suffered from broken bones and head injuries. Initially we had enough supplies but there are just too many patients. We are running out of injection liquid, antibiotics, saline drips. Thank God, though, so far I can say that most patients have received treatment.”

Zahari, who lost an uncle in the quake, said his family is sleeping in the backyard at night because their home collapsed.

International Aid

The European Commission has provided 3 million euros, EC President Jose Manuel Durao Barroso said in a press statement. The U.S. has provided $300,000 in assistance to Indonesia and set aside an additional $3 million to be used once needs are assessed. The U.S. is also sending a disaster-response team.

It’s the second earthquake to cause fatalities in Indonesia in less than a month after a magnitude-7 temblor south of Java on Sept. 2 left 82 people dead.

A tsunami generated by a magnitude-9.1 earthquake off northern Sumatra in December 2004 left about 220,000 people dead or missing in 12 countries around the Indian Ocean.

To contact the reporters on this story: Soraya Permatasari at;

Last Updated: October 3, 2009 03:13 EDT