MENTAWAI ISLANDS, Indonesia Oct 27 — Helicopters with emergency supplies finally landed Wednesday on the remote Indonesian islands slammed by a tsunami that killed at least 272 people, while elsewhere in the archipelago the toll from a volcanic eruption rose to 30, including the mountain’s spiritual caretaker.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono cut short a state visit to Vietnam to rush home to deal with the dual disasters that struck Indonesia within 24 hours, straining the country’s ability to respond.
The first aerial surveys of the region hit by the 10-foot (three-meter) tsunami revealed huge swaths of land underwater and the crumbled rubble of homes torn apart by the wave. One house lay tilted, resting on the edge of its red roof, with tires and slabs of concrete piled up on the surrounding sand.
Two days after an undersea earthquake spawned the killer wave, the casualty count was still rising as rescuers landed for the first time on the Mentawai island chain, which was closest to the epicenter and the worst hit. Bad weather had kept them away previously.
The first cargo plane loaded with 16 tons of tents, medicine, food and clothes arrived Wednesday afternoon, said disaster official Ade Edward. Four helicopters also landed in Sikakap, a town on North Pagai island, which will be the center of relief operations. - AP