Aid Workers Attempting To Reach Indonesia Quake, Tsunami Victims

by
staphni
"(CNN)
At least 311 people have died in a magnitude-7.7 earthquake off Indonesia and the subsequent tsunami, said the head of West Sumatra's disaster management agency Wednesday.

Another 410 people are still missing, agency coordinator Ade Edward said.

Rescuers and aid workers were struggling to reach the victims in the remote, hard-hit Mentawai Islands region of Indonesia.

""It's very difficult"" to reach the region either by boat or road, said Andrew Judge, CEO of the nonprofit SurfAid International.

At least one team, from the Indonesian Red Cross, had to turn back because of high seas. The organization was set to try again Wednesday, taking some 400 body bags, said spokeswoman Aulia Arriani. The trip takes at least 10 hours in good conditions, according to aid agencies.

The Red Cross will send more supplies, but is waiting to see what is needed. However, Ita Balanda, a program manager for the World Vision aid organization in Padang, said the urgent needs are expected to be clean water, food, blankets, clothing, medical attention, emergency shelter and hygiene kits.

""These people lost their houses, mostly,"" said Balanda, who is receiving information from the local government as well as a local nongovernmental organization. She said three public schools, a bridge, a road and four churches were also reported damaged. An estimated 7,900 households were affected, she said.

Medicines, tents, food and water have been sent to the area by boat, Edward said.

""The worst hit area is North and South Pagai Island. Reports of villages flattened are coming from there,"" said Antorizon of the West Sumatra disaster management agency, who like many Indonesians goes by one name."