Indonesia death toll rises

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

MARCO WERMAN: I'm Marco Werman. This is the World Rescue efforts are continuing in Padang, Indonesia. The city on the island of Sumatra was struck by an earthquake yesterday. Officials say more than a thousand people were killed -- and many more remain trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings. Amelia Merrick is organizing relief efforts for the aid group World Vision. She's in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta. Merrick says her people in Padang are telling her that the city is devastated.

AMELIA MERRICK: Power lines continue to be down, phone lines are down. Communication is difficult. What we do know is thousands are still in precarious situations. People are trapped in buildings and excavation teams are trying to save people that are caught in the buildings so the situation is terrible.

WERMAN: Describe the city for us before the earthquake. I mean, it's one of those less well known but quite large and modern cities in Indonesia, right?

MERRICK: Yes, Padang is a big city. It's fairly modern, well known for its good food and it has all you would expect: malls, and restaurants. So it's quite devastating to see what's happening right now.

WERMAN: Right. We're hearing reports of hundreds of buildings toppled. What does that mean in terms of rubble and people potentially still trapped inside those buildings?

MERRICK: There are hundreds of people that are still trapped inside the buildings. The people that have been freed from the buildings are still in a state of panic, quite traumatized. As aftershocks continue to shake, families are sleeping in their cars tonight, or they will be sleeping outside. There are rains and without shelter, and in the pitch black it's quite frightening. Especially for children.

WERMAN: We've heard several figures and statistics on how many people have been confirmed dead. How many people more, potentially, could we be talking about?

MERRICK: We've heard reports it could be up in the thousands. For a situation like this, every minute counts. But the death toll does keep rising. And so we are prepared for the worst. In fact, the president of Indonesia has set up an office in Padang to provide leadership and support. So we do know that all of us are preparing for the worst.

WERMAN: And what exactly is World Vision doing to help? And what are your limitations in terms of what you can help out with?

MERRICK: World Vision has an assessment team on the ground. By tomorrow morning we will be starting to distribute 2,000 collapsible water units. Water is one of the most important concerns in an earthquake, and as I said, the municipal water supply is destroyed. We'll also be providing tents. Shelter is critical: blankets, soaps, hygiene kits, sanitary napkins for women. These are things that are often forgotten but absolutely crucial in an emergency. World Vision will be setting up what we call child-friendly spaces. A place for children to come, a safe area free of debris and rubble, where they can come and sing and play, and try to resume a normal life as much as that's so far away from their experience right now. We find that children can be very resilient but the trauma will be quite deep for them. So we need to provide a space for children to start to deal with their trauma and process what's going on, so they can eventually come back to a normal life.

WERMAN: Right. A �normal life� being a real childhood�

MERRICK: [OVERLAPPING] �In terms of the limitations, as we said, the accessibilities for bridges are down. The airport is open now but several roads going into and out of districts are broken. So the accessibility, not only to get information but then later to distribute goods will become more difficult. People are losing their entire livelihoods. These are their homes. Everything that they have has been crumbled and destroyed, and so we really stand by the communities as they suffer.

WERMAN: Amelia Merrick, heading up the effort of World Vision. Speaking with us from Jakarta. Thank you very much for your time.

MERRICK: Thank you.