02 Oct 2009
(Post by CAAI News Media)
PADANG (Indonesia) — Dazed Asian countries reeled from the full force of nature’s fury yesterday with thousands feared dead in a freak onslaught of earthquakes, tsunamis and typhoons.
Rescuers picked through rubble after a huge quake struck Indonesia and a towering tsunami deluged the Samoan islands, while millions of flood-hit storm survivors in Southeast Asia braced for a new super-typhoon.
Fresh panic hit the Indonesian island of Sumatra, where another powerful quake hit the day after Wednesday’s 7.6-magnitude disaster, sending traumatised residents fleeing their homes.
Officials said 529 people were confirmed dead on Sumatra. But as rescue workers dug with their bare hands in pouring rain to reach those trapped alive in collapsed buildings, the number was expected to soar.
“Our prediction is that thousands have died,” Health Ministry crisis centre head Rustam Pakaya said.
The first flights laden with aid and body bags began arriving in the devastated coastal city of Padang, home to nearly a million people, where Wednesday’s quake sparked fires and caused buildings to crumble.
At least 148 people died and scores more were missing after waves of up to 7,5 metres obliterated island villages, in the South Pacific archipelago’s worst quake in nearly a century.
Survivors saw truckloads of bodies in the once-idyllic holiday destination, in a grim echo of Asia’s Boxing Day tsunami in 2004. Four Australians, two Koreans, a New Zealander and a British toddler were among the dead.
“It’s not paradise any more — it’s hell on earth,” one survivor told Australia’s Sky News.
Meanwhile, South-east Asia faced a new menace from the skies as the death toll from floods and landslides caused by Typhoon Ketsana climbed yesterday to 383 in the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
The latest threat, Typhoon Parma, churned towards the Philippines packing gusts of up to 185 km/h and was expected to become a super-typhoon before it makes landfall tomorrow.
Authorities said they will forcibly evacuate people if necessary from Parma’s path, which is set to hit areas still reeling from Ketsana.
Vietnam reported 92 deaths and said around 400 000 people have fled their homes. In Cambodia, 14 people died and thousands were left homeless.
Aid groups said 10 people were missing in Laos while neighbouring Thailand evacuated 3 000 flood-hit people.