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For Indonesia earthquake relief, true test comes in remote areas

Villagers on the Indonesian island of Sumatra have received little aid since last week's earthquake. Some residents are stepping in to cook food and collect donations for survivors.

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On the Indonesian island of Sumatra, schools and marketplaces in the ravaged capital of Padang have begun reopening following last Wednesday's earthquake, suggesting that the city is returning to a semblance of normal life.

But far-flung areas north the city, constituting a million people, have barely been reached by outside aid, international aid organizations report, warning that the true test of relief has just begun. Thousands of people, meanwhile, are believed to be buried under rubble, with the United Nations listing the death toll at 1,100.

"You have populations there that are getting pretty desperate," says Sonia Khush, a spokesperson for Save the Children in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. "There's a million people in the north, and we're assuming about 70 percent of them were affected. It's really important that we start delivering relief right away."

The village of Sungai Sarik may be typical of the challenges faced in areas to Padang's north. Nearly 85 percent of homes there have been destroyed, according to an assessment by Catholic Relief Services (CRS), which has a team of 30 people working on the ground. As survivors huddle in makeshift tents, little relief has made its way there.


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