Several Aussies still missing in Sumatra

Several Aussies still missing in Sumatra

Concerns remain for four Australians unaccounted for in the earthquake-ravaged Indonesian city of Padang, as authorities struggle to deliver much needed aid, SBS’ Auskar Surbakti reports.

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“Our embassy in Jakarta has reported that despite numerous attempts it’s not been able to make contact with four of the 13 Australians who were registered in the Padang area owing to poor communications,” a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman said.

The 7.6-magnitude quake on Wednesday afternoon toppled buildings and led to fires in the city, home to nearly a million people on the coast of Sumatra, leaving the city largely without power and communications.

SBS Correspondent Auskar Surbakti says damaged roads and traffic are obstructing the delivery of much needed aid in Padang.

“Indonesian President Yudhoyono has ordered all available resources to be diverted to the quake striken areas of Sumatra, but getting the supplies through is very difficult because many roads have been damaged by the two quakes,” Mr Surbakti said.

“The roads that are working are full of traffic from residents,” he added.

Many of the people injured from the earthquake are getting treated in makeshift tents, he added.

“That’s the best they can hope for now until proper facilities are brought in with the aid and supplies”.

Surbakti says Padang residents are helping the rescuers however they can.

“Padang is just under a million people and everyone is happy to help. In amongst all the disaster and misery there is a feeling of hope amongst the people of Padang.”

Concerns for more than 100 Aussies in Sumatra

The department believes 249 Australians are in the affected area, most of whom are unregistered.

“Of the 249, 137 have already been contacted and their safety confirmed,” the spokeswoman said.

Officials are searching hospitals in the area in an attempt to track down other Australians who may have been caught up in the disaster.

More than 1,000 dead

Indonesia says it fears thousands died in the earthquake as exhausted rescue workers claw through mountains of rubble with their bare hands in a race to find survivors.

“The latest figures we have suggest the death toll has risen already to 1,100,” UN humanitarian chief John Holmes told a press briefing at the United Nations.

Mr Holmes said hundreds more were injured and the numbers of dead and hurt were likely to rise as the full scale of the tragedy unfolds. Many districts remain inaccessible to emergency services.