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Rescue Workers Search for Survivors from Asian Disasters, Death Toll Likely to Rise

  • Daniel Schearf

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Authorities say the death toll from an earthquake in Indonesia is likely to pass 1,000 as underequipped rescue workers dig through rubble for survivors. And the Philippines is on alert as a new typhoon heads toward the islands days after Typhoon Ketsana killed more than 400 people there and in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos.

Indonesian rescue workers are digging by hand Friday, trying to find survivors among the hundreds of people believed trapped under piles of concrete.

Wednesday's earthquake struck off the coast of western Sumatra, with most of the damage in the city of Padang.

VOA's Jakarta correspondent, Brian Padden, has just arrived in Padang. He says the streets are busy with people and aid workers are pouring into the city.

"Just from the airport itself, it's like every third or fourth building we passed, there's serious damage, many have collapsed completely," he said. "Electricity is out everywhere. … There are long lines at gas stations, people are lined up with containers waiting to get the limited supply of gasoline that's here in the area."

Padden says the damage from Wednesday's quake is much worse than that from an earthquake in early September.

"In the last earthquake that hit Java, damage there was scattered, there'd be little pinpoints of damage. Here it seems everywhere, it's everywhere you look," he said.

Indonesia has asked for foreign aid to help with rescue efforts and support those affected by the 7.6 magnitude quake.

Numerous countries have offered assistance, including the United States, which pledged $3 million to help the quake victims.

Washington has also pledged aid for victims of a tropical storm that struck the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos this week. The storm killed more than 400 people in the region.

Typhoon Ketsana made landfall in the Philippines on Saturday, flooding parts of the capital, Manila and leaving tens of thousands homeless.

The Philippines is warning people to leave low-lying areas as another powerful typhoon nears.

In other natural disasters, the death toll from tsunami waves that hit the pacific islands of Samoa, American Samoa, and Tonga is nearing 200.


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