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Disaster relief teams fan out across Sumatra -

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ELEANOR HALL: For countries across the Asia Pacific it's been an appalling week with a series of
natural disasters.

The typhoon that ravaged the Philippines has now struck Vietnam and Cambodia while the Pacific
earthquake and tsunami have caused still untold damage in Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga.

But the grimmest story may well be on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, which was hit by a massive
earthquake overnight and there are reports this afternoon of yet another quake off Sumatra.

More than 200 people have already been confirmed dead but authorities are warning that thousands
more may have been killed when buildings buckled and collapsed in the 7.6 magnitude quake
overnight.

Eyewitnesses say markets, hospitals, homes and hotels in Padang city have been destroyed. Fires
have raged through the area. Power lines and water supplies are down. And there are fears that
people are still trapped under concrete slabs and rubble.

Daylight has now broken and authorities are rushing to assess the damage and to dispatch emergency
supplies.

Emily Bourke compiled this report.

(Sound of people crying)

EMILY BOURKE: The massive quake struck in the early evening almost 50 kilometres off Padang, a
coastal city of around 900,000 people.

Disaster relief officials estimate hundreds of casualties. But with many people believed trapped
under crushed buildings, some of which were later engulfed by fire, the death toll is expected to
rise.

The Mayor of the Padang Pariaman Province, Mukhlis Rahman, says bad weather is making the rescue
and relief efforts difficult.

MUKHLIS RAHMAN (translated): The quake was followed by very heavy rain. Many houses and some
buildings were flattened in my area. Some people are being treated in hospital. We will try to
distribute aid once the rain subsides.

EMILY BOURKE: The rain hasn't subsided but even in the dark early hours of this morning it was
clear to those who ventured into Padang that the destruction is extensive.

JANE LIDDON: It's very bad. It's the biggest earthquake I've ever been through here and we've lived
through a lot.

EMILY BOURKE: Jane Liddon is an Australian businesswoman based in Padang.

JANE LIDDON: There's a lot of buildings down, a lot of people trapped in buildings and it's raining
and there's no power and nothing's happened to rescue them because there really isn't anything to
do because they're big concrete buildings.

We need massive earthmoving equipment. We've got something to, it's not like a rubble heap that you
can dig through. It's very dangerous to go into them.

And people outside and in tents. In one hospital, the first one we went to, they were trying to
operate on people in the dark in the mud with torches and they didn't have very many drugs.

EMILY BOURKE: Hundreds of officials and volunteers have fanned out across the region to assess the
damage and deliver supplies.

Bob McKerrow is the head of delegation for the International Federation of the Red Cross in
Indonesia.

BOB MCKERROW: It's raining at the moment, very heavy rain so helicopters are unable to fly and
small planes are unable to fly, so that will hamper the rescue efforts. But fortunately the
Indonesia Red Cross has about, will need to look at about 30 community rescue teams on the ground.
We have another 12 assessment teams in there.

So the Red Cross is working closely with the Government and we're trying to make sure that not only
do we concentrate on Padang and Bengkulu but push out to those remote areas that are probably 100
or 200 kilometres away where I think there's a lot of damage. So look, it's going to take another
24 hours before we know even the initial extent of the damage.

EMILY BOURKE: What's the priority? Is it assessment or is it relief?

BOB MCKERROW: Well it's both. I mean you can do relief but sometimes you're helping the most
visible and not the most vulnerable. So while you do rescue for those, you know those more
accessible areas you've got to be pushing out to the remote areas where often there is more damage.

So it's a question of assessment, rescue, first-aid relief. But assessment becomes a real priority.

EMILY BOURKE: And he says getting heavy machinery shouldn't be too difficult.

BOB MCKERROW: There's a lot of earth construction work going on in West Sumatra so I'm sure, and
there's a lot of oil companies, mineral exploration companies there so hopefully they can move that
equipment around fairly quickly.

EMILY BOURKE: The President of Indonesia Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono says doctors are urgently needed.

SUSILO BAMBANG YUDHOYONO (translated): We are working on the emergency action. I have communicated
with the Social Welfare Minister, the army chief and the Health Minister. This is important because
we need doctors and paramedics to be sent.

The Health Minister has decided to send surgeons from Medan, Palembang and Jakarta. Logistics and
medicine also will be sent from Jakarta using Hercules military planes.

EMILY BOURKE: There is cause for some optimism according to Bob McKerrow from the Red Cross. He
says the government and these communities are well drilled in the responding to disasters like
this.

BOB MCKERROW: Two years ago there was a serious earthquake in the same area in a city called
Bengkulu. Since then the Red Cross have done a really big push on risk reduction or disaster
preparedness programs where we train local people, we stockpile equipment, rescue equipment,
medical supplies, so that area is much better prepared than it was a few years ago.

EMILY BOURKE: As far as the response from Indonesian authorities, are they doing all that can be
done given the circumstances?

BOB MCKERROW: I've been working very closely with the Indonesian Government during the past year,
particularly the disaster management organisation. They are slick. They're able to mobilise all
forms of transportation. They've got good trained volunteers on the ground. They work closely with
the Red Cross.

So I've got no worries whatsoever. I don't think we'll need international help; not in the first
four or five days. It's a big country, big resources. And already you can see businesses pitching
in and help. Helicopter companies saying can we give you helicopters free. So there's a really good
self-help effort underway.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Bob McKerrow from the International Red Cross ending that report form Emily
Bourke.