Saturday, 3 October 2009

Photos from the Earthquake in West Sumatra

The relief operation is into full swing with the helicopter and Red Cross (PMI) medical personnel getting to out to many villages today. The supply chain is open wide and distribution of key relief items going out. The blood bank is operating well, PSP (counselling) teams and Restoring Family Links teams are working well with the affected people. Swiss Red Crioss/ Government Resue teams working hard round the clock. Assessment continue as all the figures of deaths and destruction rise.

Here are some photos I have taken in the last few days.

Damage in China Town, Padang. Below Photo: Bob McKerrow

More damage in China Town
<The main hotel that collapsed. It was a six story building compressed into one and a bit stories. Photo: Bob McKerrow

The PMI blood bank operates outside . (below)

A Swiss rescue worker at the airport with his dog awaiting deployment.
A village wiped out by a mudslides. Many deaths.

A water buffalo, oblivious to the damage, resents my arrival. The house in the background rests on the ground.
Typical amages in the remote and inaccessible areas below.
More damaged houses. Over 100,000 more like this below.

Bob McKerrow left, and Colin Tuck ( from Fox Gkacier NZ)our daring Kiwi helicopter pilot. Thanks to Tucky working closeby, we were able to start on aerial assessment within 15 hours, identify people dying because of crush injurues, and fly in doctors.

Chairman of PMI, Mar'ie Muhammad comforting a child in a very isolated village we visited by chopper. (below).

Here is the latest from the BBC website:

The closer you get to the earthquake's epicentre the worse the damage gets.

First the road becomes blocked to vehicles. Then even motorbikes cannot get through, and soon you can only walk and clamber over the landslides to reach the communities perhaps hardest hit by this disaster.

Homes were just swallowed up here as the quake shook the land from the hillsides, tearing down everything, destroying houses and crushing hundreds of people below tonnes of earth.

The size of the landslides are astonishing - massive tears in the jungle where soil and trees have been ripped from the slopes and dumped into the valleys.

Dawianis Ardo is digging. Others are helping him - smashing concrete beams with the back of an axe, pulling at debris with wire cable and shifting bucket-loads of soil from the hole.

The patch of earth, trees and concrete is what is left of three homes. One was empty, but the two crushed into each other and buried with earth from the mountain which slipped off into the valley were not.

Inside were nine adults and seven children - some of them playing marbles just outside the house when the earthquake struck.

"We found two bodies yesterday - they had been crushed to death - we expect to find the other 14 bodies today," he said.

They were his cousins.

"If we don't find them today I will dig for another five days - that will be a week - and then I will leave them to God."

Crushed to death

A path has been trodden across the face of the landslide where the road used to be and people were carefully making their way across.

I just sat here and prayed

Earthquake survivor

The situation just worsened further along the track - more houses flattened, more landslides scarring the hillside and wider cracks in the road.

Zaimar sat outside her collapsed home as the men dug at the crushed wooden beams to big out their food supplies and possessions.

She described what it was like when the quake hit, kneeling down and showing us how she sat to stop herself falling as the shockwave threw everything and everybody around.

She began to cry - to sob - as she remembered those terrifying moments when she was convinced the world was going to end.

"I just sat here and prayed," she said, still crying uncontrollably.

Her family were all unhurt, but the shock has affected her deeply and her neighbours lost relatives in the rubble.

Waiting for help

At another landslide an ornately tiled porch stands now like a platform overlooking the valley below.

The home which was behind it is crushed and buried, along with it a family of 10 people.

Further along, the route is blocked by a house teetering on the edge of another gaping scar - the only way forward to the villages and communities ahead is through someone's front room.

One village is packed with people - all asking when the aid will come. A police helicopter circled overhead suggesting they have not been forgotten about.

But they feel abandoned and alone. They have rice and basic supplies, but with no electricity and a road it will take many weeks to repair, they are afraid of their new-found isolation, hoping help will come to them soon.

Three-thousand dead is what the government has estimated.

Here amid the destroyed homes, with so many stories of relatives being buried alive, it seems as though it could be even more.

Coordinations meetings. Our first coordination meeting.


Gollum said...


You are doing a great job and, more importantly, making a difference.

As someone who sits on his bum for a living I have nothing but admiration for what your team is doing.

Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Dear Gollum

I sit on my rear quite a lot behind a computer so the trips to the field are an inspiring change. Tks for your feedback, Bob

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