Indonesia turns attention to relief efforts

PADANG, Indonesia — Helicopters dropped instant noodles and other aid to cutoff hillside communities that were without food for five days, as rescue workers gave up their search Monday for survivors from last week's massive Indonesian earthquake.

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When all the bodies are counted and the missing declared dead, the death toll from Wednesday's 7.6-magnitude quake on Sumatra island is expected to be in the thousands. The official toll currently is 609.

A measure of normalcy returned to Padang, the devastated capital of West Sumatra province. Hundreds of children went back to classes in schools set up in tents. UNICEF provided tents and basic supplies for schools in three of 10 affected districts.

In the old market area, stalls were full of food and bustling with residents stocking up on vegetables, fruit and fish.

The city of 900,000 resembled a sprawling demolition site with houses, mosques, schools, a mall and hotels brought down.

"It's all gone — my store, it all burned down," said Lucille Samsir, who owned a small shop. "It will take years for us to rebuild. … We have to recover. We must."

It was unclear precisely how many people were without shelter Monday, but more than 88,000 houses and 285 schools were flattened in the 10 affected districts, officials said. An additional 100,000 public buildings were damaged.

American Samoa: The Federal Emergency Management Agency said Monday that cleanup and recovery efforts were making significant progress after the Sept. 29 tsunami. American Samoa suffered 32 deaths, while 136 people were killed in Samoa and nine died in nearby Tonga.

Philippines: Typhoon Parma weakened into a tropical storm but lingered off the northern Philippine coast Monday, causing widespread flooding and landslides.

Indonesia turns attention to relief efforts 10/05/09 [Last modified: Monday, October 5, 2009 11:26pm]

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