The 7.7 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck off of Indonesia has left at least 272 people dead and 412 missing as rescuers struggle to reach the hardest hit areas and the numbers continue to climb.
The Mentawai Islands region, particularly north and south Pagai Island were the worst hit areas receiving the most damage and are the areas rescue workers can not seem to reach. The Indonesian Red Cross had at least one team that attempted to reach the area and had to turn back due to the high seas. They are prepared to try again Wednesday with supplies that include 400 body bags according to spokeswoman Aulia Arriani.
The Red Cross is anticipating that it will need many more supplies but is unaware of what is needed until it can assess the damage to the area. The organization expects that it will urgently need clean water, food, blankets, clothing, medical attention, shelter and hygiene kits for the residents.
Communicating with the area is a challenge but there are reports that continue to come in. Some have reported entire villages being flattened and houses, schools, bridges, roads and churches destroyed. Witnesses report waves from 3 meters (10 feet) to 6 meters (20 feet) high. It is reported that one village of 200 people was completely washed away and only 40 of them have been recovered so far.
According to preliminary reports more than 7,900 households were affected by the disaster. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has cut a trip short to return to the area due to concern over both the tsunami and the currently erupting volcano.