Indonesian search and rescue teams Wednesday plucked stranded residents from remote islands and pushed into isolated communities still desperate for aid in the aftermath of a volcano-triggered tsunami that killed more than 400.
Medical workers have warned that clean water and medicine supplies were running low — stoking fears of a public health crisis — as thousands of displaced survivors cram shelters and hospitals. Many were left homeless by the killer wave.
The disaster agency said it has dispatched helicopters to drop supplies into a handful of hard-to-reach communities along the shattered coastlines of western Java and south Sumatra.
Hundreds of residents still stranded on tiny islands in the Sunda Strait, which separates Java and Sumatra, will be airlifted or taken by boat to shelters, the agency said.
Sniffer dogs are being used to find those still missing as grief-stricken relatives lined up at identification centres, but hopes of finding any survivors beneath the rubble have dwindled.
“We”re starting to access the most isolated places hit by the tsunami,” said senior disaster agency official Dody Ruswandi.
“The devastation there is pretty massive, but we had not been able to get in there in the first couple of days.” Some roads and bridges near isolated communities had been damaged, making road access more difficult, he added.
The powerful tsunami struck Saturday night without warning, sweeping over popular beaches and inundating tourist hotels and coastal communities, leaving a trail of death and destruction in its wake.
The latest death toll stood at 429, with 1,485 people injured and another 154 still missing.