Burial mounds yield few survivors: Local relief agencies are flooded with aid but India's refusal of Western rescue experts has cost more lives

ONLY four survivors have been found in the 36 hours since army rescue teams began clearing away the debris from last Thursday's massive earthquake in central India, which officials say has left around 22,000 dead. Estimates had been put at 30,000.

In New Delhi, foreign relief experts said that if India had not initially refused offers from Western countries with expertise in locating trapped earthquake victims by using sniffer dogs, many more survivors might been rescued.

In the Maharashtra districts of Latur and Osmanabad, worst hit, relief teams so far have pulled more than 9,800 bodies from villages pounded into burial mounds of mud and stone. But the number of people found alive, trapped under collapsed houses, has been depressingly few. Hopes of finding more people buried alive by the earthquake grow dimmer.

Army teams are now bulldozing the demolished villages. An army spokesman said the entombed corpses were decomposing rapidly in the heat and rain. Fears are growing that unless bodies are burnt swiftly, epidemics such as cholera and typhoid might spread among the estimated 150,000 homeless refugees. In Sastur, where more than half of the village's 10,000 people were crushed to death, a three-year-old boy was rescued from the rubble on Friday. He had been trapped beside his mother's corpse for over 24 hours.

The only other reported survivors were three brothers, aged between 10 and 14, buried alive in Holi, a village where every house was destroyed and thousands perished. Authorities attributed the low survival rate to the building materials used in the villages and the fact that rescue teams took 30 hours to reach the stricken villages.

The Prime Minister, Narasimha Rao, has made an appeal for donations. Indians have flooded relief organisations with food and blankets. On Saturday, Indian air force helicopters delivered over 45 tons of food and medicine to the hardest-hit villages. Volunteers and sightseers swarmed to the destroyed villages, slowing relief efforts.

The first shipment of Western aid - dollars 3m ( pounds 2m) in tents and medical supplies from the United States - reached Bombay yesterday afternoon. Emergency aid from Britain, the Netherlands and France is on its way.

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: SEO Manager

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for a white-ha...

Recruitment Genius: Operations and Administration Support Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading Solar P...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Support Specialist

£18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This organisation is changing the way at...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Web Designer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Web Designer is required to join a f...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor