Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 10 July 2014

Air drops get under way for remote tsunami-hit Indonesian islands

A newly orphaned 2-month-old baby, who was found in a storm drain, sleeps at a hospital in Sikakap, Pagai Island, West Sumatra

Planes dropped dried food to tsunami-hit Indonesian islands yesterday after storms and a shortage of vessels made helicopter and boat deliveries almost impossible.

Hundreds of miles away, a volcano on the island of Java that killed 35 people this week erupted five more times, but no more casualties were reported.

Four days after the tsunami crashed into the Mentawai islands off Sumatra the death toll has risen above 400 and details of survivors' misery and new accounts of the terrifying moments when the wave struck were still trickling out from the area.

A group of surfers told of huddling, screaming and praying as they watched a roaring wall of water cross a lagoon and slam into their three-storey thatch-roofed resort. The power of the wave shook the building so hard they feared it would collapse. All 27 people at the resort survived.

“It was noise and chaos. You can hear the water coming, coming, coming,” Chilean surfer Sebastian Carvallo said. “And then before the second wave hit the building, everyone was, like, screaming and when the wave hit the building you could only hear people praying.”

He said two of the waves were at least 16 feet high.

Dozens of injured survivors of the tsunami were at a hard-pressed hospital, including a newly orphaned two-month-old boy found in a storm drain.

The child, with cuts on his face, blinked sleepily in a humidified crib. Hospital workers named him Imanual Tegar. Tegar means “tough” in Indonesian.

“We need doctors, specialists,” nurse Anputra said at the tiny hospital in Pagai Utara, one of the four main islands in the Mentawai chain hit by Monday's tsunami.

Relief workers in Hercules planes air-dropped food — mostly boxes of instant noodles — onto the hardest-hit areas in the Mentawais. Heavy storms made the visibility unsafe for helicopters and the seas too dangerous for small boats to deliver emergency supplies.

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