Public health officials fear the outbreak of disease in Indonesia’s quake-hit West Sumatra Province.
Six days after the earthquake devastated Sumatra, search and rescue efforts have been shelved in major cities. Attention has now turned to survivors. In the port city of Padang hundreds of volunteers sprayed buildings with disinfectant in an attempt to ward off any deadly germs. Clean drinking water is of paramount importance. Patrick Fuller from the Red Cross said: “If people don’t have clean water and they are drinking dirty water, then, yes, there are health problems with that. So things are slowly normalising, electricity is coming back but our concern is still getting to people in villages, in the rural areas, who have not yet been reached.” Aid is now pouring into the area, but the scale of the disaster, heavy rains and shattered infrastructure mean that help is slow in reaching those who need it, sparking anger among the locals. People are looking for ways of helping themselves like begging. “We will use the money to buy fuel for the generator and chillies for our cooking,” said one boy. The number of victims stands at 625 dead and 295 missing but Indonesia’s health minister has warned it may rise to as high as 3,000.