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Indonesia quake search called off

The search for anyone still alive after the Indonesian earthquake has been called off as rescue efforts are switched to caring for the survivors.

Spokesman for the Indonesian Search and Rescue Agency Gagah Prakoso said: “The chances of survival while trapped without water and food under the rubble for so long are impossible from now. So we will speed up our search to find bodies and clean up the ruins with bulldozers.”

According to UN estimates, 1,100 people died, although the government puts the total at 603. It will rise significantly if and when those now missing are declared dead.

The undersea quake devastated 10 districts in the Western Sumatra province including the capital, Padang, a city of 900,000 people where scores of tall buildings, including hotels, a mall, mosques and schools collapsed.

In addition, the quake triggered huge landslides in the hills of Pariaman district where entire villages were wiped out. Government minister Aburizal Bakrie has said that £370 million is needed to repair infrastructure.

Little aid has reached the remote communities in Pariaman as many roads and bridges were destroyed. Landslides also blocked many of the roads leading to villages, leaving aid workers scrambling to clear the road of dirt, boulders and trees.

One road ended at Kampung Dalam village. The rest of the way had caved in, forcing rescue teams from South Korea, France and Germany to camp there. Villages further up the road are now accessible only by foot.

More than 88,000 houses and 285 schools have been flattened in 10 affected districts, with another 100,000 public buildings and 20 miles of road damaged.

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