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MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Mar. 29) – Disaster aid has begun to reach Nias Island off Sumatra, bringing relief to those affected by the massive earthquake that struck less than 24 hours ago.

On Nias and Simeulue islands, which bore the brunt of the earthquake, buildings and infrastructure have been badly damaged by the 8.7 magnitude quake.

Estimates of the number of people killed range from 300 to more than 1,000.

Bernd Schell, from the International Red Cross, says it'll be days before the death toll is known.

"There are some bigger buildings, concrete buildings, where maybe some people are still trapped but we really don’t have the full overview how many people may have died in this disaster because we are starting now with big cities, but there are a lot of places we still have to assess within the next hours and days."

March 30, 2005

Radio Australia:

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