Indonesian Quake Toll Passes 500, May Hit Thousands

Rescuers scramble to save victims trapped by two massive shakers
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Oct 1, 2009 3:54 AM CDT
Members of a family cry after they look at a building destroyed by an earthquake in Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia.   (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
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(Newser) – The final death toll in two massive Indonesia earthquakes may reach into the thousands as rescuers scramble to free victims still trapped in crushed buildings. "We need aid as soon as possible. We need food and medicine. Our houses have collapsed," said a resident of the bustling port city of Padang, where the first 7.6 magnitude hit Wednesday, toppling hundreds of buildings, and felling bridges. Blocked roads and downed communications were hampering frantic rescue efforts in heavy rain.

A second 6.8 quake yesterday that hit another part of Sumatra island further inland also toppled buidlings. The death toll now stands at 529, but Health Minister Siti Fadillah Supari told reporters before leaving for Padang that the number of victims "could be more than thousands."