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Condolences sent to quake victims

Update: October, 02/2009 - 00:00

Condolences sent to quake victims


Rescue teams look for victims in a collapsed hotel in the Sumatran city of Padang, Indonesia, yesterday. It is believed that thousands died in the 7.6 magnitude earthquake, which occurred last Wednesday. — AFP/VNA Photo

HA NOI — President Nguyen Minh Triet and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung yesterday sent condolences to Indonesian President H. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono over the deaths and immense devastation caused by the 7.6 magnitude quake in Indonesia’s island province of West Sumatra last Wednesday.

Dung also offered sympathies to Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi of the Independent State of Samoa.

Yesterday Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem also expressed his sorrow in a written message to Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda.

Trapped bodies

Quake-trapped corpses rotted in Indonesia, the first storm deaths emerged from Laos and the Philippines cowered before a "super typhoon" as nature offered no respite yesterday to disaster-hit Asia.

As the international community struggled to respond to the devastation created by an extraordinary series of tsunamis, earthquakes and tropical storms across the region, the death toll in the affected countries continued to mount.

In the Indonesian city of Padang, which was ravaged by a 7.6-magnitude quake on Wednesday, ill-equipped emergency teams clawed through the rubble of collapsed buildings in an increasingly desperate search for survivors.

UN officials put the number of dead at 1,100 and said the figure was expected to rise, with assistance yet to reach outlying villages devastated by the disaster.

With its emergency resources stretched to the limit and blocked roads and broken power lines hindering relief efforts, the Indonesian government pleaded for foreign help in the form of specialised rescue workers, equipment and medics.

The European Union pledged 3 million euros (US$4.36 million) for the aid effort and China offered $500,000.

Britian said a 60-strong team of firefighters and staff from aid agencies, carrying specialist rescue equipment, were heading to the devastated region on a government-chartered plane.

Australia, which fears for up to 100 of its citizens unaccounted for in the quake zone, said it would send a 44-person search and rescue team to help operations, along with 10 engineering assessment specialists from the military.

A situation report released by UN named non-government organisations on the ground as World Vision, Surfaid, Hope Worldwide, Jaica and Mercy Corps., which has a Padang office.

Germany has pledged 1 million euros ($1.5 million) in addition to search-and-rescue resources and water purification plants while Switzerland is sending a team of about 120 experts, the foreign ministry there has said

Indonesia’s government has approved $26 million and said it has sent tonnes of medicine, tents, blankets and food aid as well as hundreds of medical specialists.

US President Barack Obama said he was "deeply moved" by the loss of life and suffering as Washington announced $300,000 in immediate aid and set aside another 3 million to help quake victims.

In the Philippines, millions of terrified flood survivors, many of them sheltered in vulnerable, makeshift evacuation centres, faced the fresh horror of an approaching super typhoon.

Typhoon Parma has slowed while approaching the Philippines but continues to pack extremely dangerous winds and remains unpredictable, government weather forecasters said yesterday.

Parma, which was originally forecast to hit the northern Philippine province of Aurora last Saturday morning, was predicted to make landfall yesterday’s afternoon, the forecasters said.

The typhoon was originally moving northwest at 19kph, but slowed to 13kph yesterday, the weather station said.

President Gloria Arroyo ordered the evacuation of coastal towns in the typhoon’s direct path and put the entire nation under a "state of calamity", giving the government expanded powers.

The government warned Parma would tear down houses in its direct path, while likely bringing more heavy rain and high winds to the nation’s capital, Manila, and nearby areas still recovering from floods triggered by tropical storm Ketsana last weekend.

Ketsana killed nearly 300 people and affected more than 3 million as it pounded the region around Manila with the heaviest rains in four decades.

The tropical storm wreaked havoc across much of Southeast Asia, with 99 deaths reported in Viet Nam and 17 in Cambodia, while the Red Cross in Laos said yesterday that at least 16 people had been killed and 135 were missing.

In the Pacific island of Samoa, emergency workers said they had given up hope of finding more survivors from a tsunami that battered the island and American Samoa and Tonga on Tuesday.

"It’s no longer a rescue effort, it’s more like recovery and finding out what’s happened in some remote villages," a Samoan disaster management official said.

Officials feared up to 150 people may have been killed, while the death toll stood at 31 in American Samoa and nine in Tonga.

Another powerful 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck in seas off Tonga and the Samoan islands yesterday, two days after a giant tremor and devastating tsunami killed 150 people.

No immediate tsunami alert was issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii and Australian experts said the tremor was likely too small to create another deadly wave.

"I don’t think there is a particular tsunami danger from that earthquake," Geoscience Australia seismologist Phil Cummins said.

Samoa declared a national disaster after a giant 8.0 magnitude earthquake – the worst in 90 years – churned up waves between three and 7.5m high which pounded sleepy South Pacific villages and popular tourist resorts. — AFP/VNS


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