* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.Relief efforts are now reaching survivors in Indonesia, hard hit by a 7.7 earthquake and a tsunami. The devastation has killed over 400 people. Relief workers and families are searching for more than 303 people still missing. The earthquake triggered a tsunami off the west coast of Sumatra which devastated 27 villages on the Mentawai Islands. Six villages were completely washed into the ocean. The Indonesian National Disaster Coordinating Agency reports that 12,800 people have been left homeless. AmeriCares has been in touch with local health authorities about the need for additional medical assistance. "AmeriCares leading relief worker in Indonesia is travelling to the affected area to assess the needs and resource gaps, particularly for treating the injured and restoring health services," reports Ella Gudwin, AmeriCares Vice President of Emergency Response. "The affected islands are a six-hour boat ride from the mainland, and relief efforts are being coordinated out of Padang and other ports with the best access to help survivors." In the first days of the response, poor weather conditions hampered search and rescue activities and information gathering about the extent of the damage. Relief efforts have progressed in the last two days, with the arrival of four Indonesian naval ships carrying aid. However, because of the distance to the islands and the limits of helicopters, delivering assistance to people stranded on the islands remains difficult. AmeriCares has responded to disasters in this geographic area before. Following an earthquake in Padang in October 2009, AmeriCares provided medical assistance to the Jamil Hospital and has assisted with its rehabilitation. Additionally, AmeriCares responded to the 2004 Asian Tsunami that devastated Banda Aceh on the northern tip of Sumatra and undertook a five-year reconstruction initiative, rebuilding hospitals and clinics, schools, water systems, training health workers and developing livelihoods for survivors.