U.N.: Indonesian quake claimed 1,100 lives

JAKARTA, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- U.N. officials say at least 1,100 people are dead in Indonesia after islands of the nation were struck by two earthquakes in two days.

United Nations humanitarian director John Holmes said hundreds of people were injured and possibly thousands were trapped beneath the rubble, CNN reported.


"These numbers, I fear, will rise as more information becomes available," he said. "It's still feared that thousands of people are trapped under damaged houses and many buildings."

The two earthquakes -- a 7.6-magnitude quake on Wednesday and a 6.6-magnitude quake on Thursday -- plunged the hardest-hit areas into darkness, cut off road access and hampered telecommunications, Holmes said.

Worst hit was the West Sumatran capital of Padang, where officials estimate 376 people died.

In Padang, thousands of people slept outside Wednesday, fearing more tremors,Yenni Suryani, of Catholic Relief Services, told CNN.

Amelia Merrick, operations director for World Vision Indonesia, called the situation "quite devastating."

"Bridges have gone down, phone lines are in total disrepair," she said. "It's difficult for us to assess the situation."

Wayne Ulrich, the Red Cross disaster management coordinator in Indonesia, said hundreds of houses were damaged, although the extent was unclear.


"We have concerns that a hospital has been partially damaged; a market has caught on fire; the airport was closed down for inspection because of the fear if they landed any planes" it might cause problems, Ulrich said.

In Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama said he directed his administration to coordinate with relief and recovery efforts in Indonesia.

"Indonesia is an extraordinary country that's known extraordinary hardship from natural disasters," Obama said. "I know firsthand that the Indonesian people are strong and resilient and have the spirit to overcome this enormous challenge. And as they do, they need to know that America will be their friend and partner."

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