Indonesia says search for quake victims to end

Marsha Scott
October 11, 2018

According to the Government of Indonesia, the official death toll has reached almost 1,600 people, amid unconfirmed reports that more than 1,000 people have been buried in a housing complex, in the city of Palu, which suffered the full-force of the deadly tsunami wave.

The 7.5 magnitude quake triggered a process called soil liquefaction that turned the ground into a quagmire.

The official death toll has risen to 1,763 but bodies are still being recovered, at least 34 in one place alone on Saturday and more on Sunday.

More than 70,000 people have been left homeless from the disaster and 1,571 people have been confirmed dead.

"We are perplexed and frustrated mostly".

"We're Muslim. We need a proper burial, in the Islamic way", said Ikaya.

Help has now reached some of the worst-affected communities including in Sigi, Palu and Donggala districts.

Palu has some tsunami evacuation route signs, but Mokhtar, a resident, said while he was aware of government sponsored simulations shown on television on what to do in an quake, he had not seen any on the ground. "We want to find our sister".

One boy chatting in the school compound with friends said he was sad so few of his class mates had shown up.

"There was a palpable sense of relief from the evacuees when they got into our Herc", he said.

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Most of the dead have been found in Palu, the region's main urban center. The quake ripped apart the roads, hindering access, so helicopters have been dropping aid supplies to more remote areas.

Rocked by back-to-back disasters of an quake and a tsunami, the scale of the devastation on Sulawesi island is still being uncovered.

In December 2004, a massive 9.1-magnitude natural disaster off the northern Indonesian island of Sumatra triggered a tsunami across the Indian Ocean countries, killing 220,000 people in 13 countries, including more than 168,000 in Indonesia.

At the flattened Hotel Roa-Roa - where early optimism that survivors might be found faded as the days wore on and tropical heat intensified - search teams also prepared body bags.

The 7.5 magnitude quake struck on 28 September, bringing down buildings and, in some areas, turning the ground to liquid in a process called "liquefaction" and moving entire neighbourhoods.

The official death toll stands at 1,944, but the country officials believe that when casualties from two of the hardest-hit areas of Palu - Balaroa and Petobo - are determined, that number could nearly triple.

"We don't want the community to be relocated to such unsafe places", Nugroho said. Such cables would be less vulnerable and quicker than buoys and cost 300 billion rupiah ($19.8 million) a year for every 200 km (125 miles), he said.

An International Monetary Fund/World Bank meeting that the governmetn is hosting on the island of Bali this week has drawn some criticism from the political opposition.

"The building survived the natural disaster, but we don't know how safe it is", said Satria Hamid, a spokesperson for the Transmart Carrefour supermarket.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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