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Rain hampers rescue effort -

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ELEANOR HALL: Now with the latest from the Indonesian capital let's cross to the ABC's Indonesia
correspondent Geoff Thompson.

Geoff, firstly what can you tell us about this second quake that we're hearing has hit Sumatra?

GEOFF THOMPSON: We know nothing about it, not much about it yet Eleanor other than to say that
obviously a quake of this size can cause damage on its own and given that there's structures that
are already unstable and people milling around them, it's really not a good thing to be happening
at the moment and something which could further hamper rescue efforts after the Padang quake of
yesterday.

ELEANOR HALL: Now Geoff we just heard from a Red Cross worker in Padang that it's still raining
there and so it's not yet possible to get planes or helicopters in. How much of a problem is that
likely to pose for the rescue effort?

GEOFF THOMPSON: Well I think that larger planes will be able to land. The airport opened again this
morning. There were Indonesian ministers and officials going there and obviously you know
journalists and aid workers. So I think there is some stuff getting in.

The key issue will be getting the heavy machinery into Padang and also to clear the landslides
around Padang. The roads, as I understand it many of the roads are cut off into the main city and
that's, that is a real issue.

But as the Red Cross mentioned the thing you do have in Indonesia, you have these incredibly sort
of agile groups of volunteers who seem to spring out of nowhere these days when there are disasters
and before you know it there's food and water and stuff being handed out. And these groups exist
all over Indonesia in local communities as well.

ELEANOR HALL: Padang has clearly been severely damaged by the quake but can you tell us anything
about the more remote towns and villages around that urban centre?

GEOFF THOMPSON: Well I understand that in Pariaman which is north of Padang, that the damage there
is thought to be quite extensive as well. And there are reports from Lake Maninjau inland, a lake
area which has housing around it, there have been landslides there.

Now we just saw just recently in Java that the worst, the worst damage and death toll came from a
place where a quake simply triggered a landslide. And we know that there are, I don't know exactly
how many but there's certainly several landslides that have been triggered by this earthquake and
they could, they could, they will almost certainly involve loss of life.

ELEANOR HALL: What is the latest information from Indonesian authorities about the number of people
likely to have been affected by this disaster?

GEOFF THOMPSON: Look there's lots of, there's a mix of speculation and guesstimate at the moment.
The official toll is around 200. Last night and even today various officials and Indonesian
ministers have compared this to the Yogyakarta earthquake of 2006 in which almost 6,000 people
died.

Now I think we're a long way from having any sense of what the final death toll will be but I think
hedging their bets officials are now saying that the death toll could be in the thousands and a
number similar to that could also be buried under rubble once people get to these remote areas and
reveal the true extent of this tragedy.

ELEANOR HALL: Geoff, the Red Cross worker we heard from a moment ago said that despite the scale of
this disaster he thinks that the Indonesian Government will be able to handle this without
international help. Is that what you're hearing, that the Government is not likely to ask for
foreign assistance?

GEOFF THOMPSON: Look I think Indonesia is a lot better equipped these days to deal with these sorts
of disasters, certainly since the Boxing Day tsunami. And they do tend to want to try and do it on
their own when they can.

I think they will open up their, you know, hearts and wallets to contributions from other countries
to assist. I'm sure that will happen. But they may well try and stay in control of the rescue
effort and reconstruction for now. But that may change.

If the worst fears are realised and this is thought to be as bad as the Yogyakarta quake of 2006
then we could see Indonesia more willing to accept international assistance.

ELEANOR HALL: Geoff, thank you.

That's Geoff Thompson, the ABC's Indonesia correspondent.