GUNUNG SITOLI, Indonesia (AP) – Aid workers rushed food to quake-stricken Nias island on Thursday and tried to restore running water while survivors complained of hunger after the region’s latest big earthquake, which killed an estimated 1,000 people.

This remote tropical island bore the brunt of Monday night’s 8.7-magnitude quake, located in the same Indian Ocean region where a 9.0 temblor three months earlier triggered Asia’s tsunami catastrophe.

Workers dug for five hours before pulling a 13-year-old girl from the rubble early Thursday. The girl, who only suffered scratches on her foot, had been trapped for 52 hours, said Indonesian Red Cross official Herri Ansyah.

The main Nias town of Gunung Sitoli remained without power and running water Thursday, as islanders and aid workers continued their frantic search through destroyed buildings for survivors, bodies and belongings as aftershocks barraged the area.

The United Nations sent a 350-ton landing craft packed with food toward the island from nearby Aceh province, and it was expected later Thursday or Friday, said U.N. relief coordinator Francois Desruisseauz. Aid workers worked with local engineers to restore water and power.

“I hope that within two days there will be running water,” he said.

Under a tarpaulin on the grounds of a mosque in Gunung Sitoli, Yusman Gule had no water to mix with his dried food, so he fed his 6-year-old daughter Yumni with just the powder. She lost an ear, broke an arm and badly squashed her fingers in the quake, but still managed to smile.

“Don’t leave us here to die,” the father said. “It’s difficult to find food. All we can do is beg.”

Foreign military help began arriving on the island Wednesday when two Singaporean helicopters landed to distribute some food and water to a frantic crowd of survivors.

North Sumatra Gov. Rizal Nurdin estimated that 1,000 people died in the latest disaster, but officials feared the number could climb to 2,000 as rescuers continued to pull bodies from crumpled shops and homes. A U.N. survey put the confirmed death toll so far at 518, with 500 of those on Nias, U.N. official Masood Hyder said.

French firefighters on Wednesday freed a man who had been trapped for 36 hours in a destroyed three-story house in Gunung Sitoli.

The improvised rescue highlighted the crisis on Nias: Thousands of collapsed buildings and no machinery to help search the rubble. The town’s hospital was barely functioning: It lacked power, water and fuel for its generators.

Overnight, a magnitude-6.3 aftershock was reported off the west coast of Sumatra, but there were no immediate reports of injury or damage.


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