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 From villages to mass graves

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Join date : 2009-10-04
Age : 32

PostSubject: From villages to mass graves   Wed Oct 07, 2009 1:55 pm

CUMANAK - STANDING next to swathes of mud and debris that was once the Indonesian village of Cumanak, exhausted farmer Muchtar says he is haunted by the faces of his dead neighbours.

One of the few survivors after a major earthquake dislodged hillsides around four adjacent villages on Sumatra island a week ago, the 62-year-old has been called upon to identify the bodies being plucked one-by-one from the earth. But he has had enough.

'I'm too traumatised, I can't do it anymore,' Mr Muchtar, a weather-beaten rice farmer, told AFP, his voice halting as he spoke. The families keep asking me, but I can't help. I'm too scared,' he said, adding that only five people out of one extended family of 21 had survived.

Police in the village believe around 100 people there perished in the disaster triggered by last Wednesday's 7.6-magnitude earthquake.

In all the villages in this area, some 30km east of the town of Pariaman, up to 400 are believed to have died, according to local officials.

The actual number is likely to never be known. Anyone caught in the tonnes of rock, mud and trees had little chance. When rescue workers arrived days later, they could only help to dig for bodies. -- AFP
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