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Focus Pivots to Relief Following Deadly Tsunami, Earthquake

In the Samoan islands, relief efforts have begun after an earthquake triggered a tsunami. Meanwhile, Indonesia is struggling to recover from its own temblor. U.S. officials say the first flight carrying aid is en route to the region.

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    The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent is one of the humanitarian agencies dispatching aid teams to Sumatra. We get a telephone update from Bob McKerrow, head of the Red Cross delegation in Jakarta.

    Welcome, Mr. McKerrow. Indonesia's health minister said today — he characterized this as a high-scale disaster. What's the latest you can tell us tonight?

    BOB MCKERROW, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies: Yes, well, I've been in touch with some of the (inaudible) the night, and the situation is not looking good, particularly in Padang and (inaudible) they seem to be badly affected cities.

    The earthquake occurred only one hour before dark, so very few people have seen what it's like in daylight. So within two hours, we'll be able to put planes in the air and do an aerial assessment.

    But the damage to public buildings is quite extensive. Hospitals, clinics, schools, universities seem to be quite badly damaged, and thousands of homes have been destroyed. People are still trapped under rubble. So it's quite a serious situation.


    So because it's been so dark, you haven't been able to get a real fix on the number of dead and missing?


    Yes. The recent figures are about 85 people dead, but no figures on the number of people missing. But it's quite alarming. A number of people are injured. We're getting reports of hundreds of people quite badly injured.


    And I also gather there's quite a widespread electrical blackout, which must be hindering things, as well.


    Yes, there's been a electrical blackout, also very difficult to get a hold of people by landlines or mobile phones. So it seems that infrastructure, such as bridges and roads, have been quite seriously affected. The airport is closed in Padang. So it's looking quite a serious earthquake.

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