Sulawesi quake chaos: We haven't eaten for days, say Indonesia tsunami survivors

Tuesday, 02 Oct, 2018

They'll join some 1,300 personnel already at site, including military and police.

"There are a few young girls but I can't recognize them", said Lisa, 38, who was at Palu's hospital looking for her 14-year-old daughter and mother among dozens of bodies in orange bags lined up out the back.

He said 114 foreigners were in Palu and Donggala during the disaster.

Hundreds of bodies have been found on the beach, and authorities fear that many people have been washed out to sea. The main airport at Palu was damaged, landslides had cut off key roads while "power is out nearly everywhere", she added. And while it's common to focus on temblors' epicenters, the agency says, "earthquakes of this size are more appropriately described as slip over a larger fault area".

The National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) said one woman was rescued overnight in the neighborhood of Balaroa, near Palu, where houses were swallowed up when the natural disaster caused soil liquefaction.

Major aid group Aksi Cepat Tanggap said at least 1,203 bodies had been recovered, but disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Nugroho cautioned that the estimate was not official.

Rescuers are still facing obstacles reaching Donggala, the epicentre of the 7.4-magnitude quake that hit at dusk on Friday, citing damaged roads, landslides, and a lack of heavy equipment to speed up evacuation and search-and-rescue operations.

Indonesian media showed images of survivors entering the heavily damaged malls and supermarkets to loot supplies, despite the risk of building collapse.

One man told CNN Monday he had been waiting there two days.

The airport has been closed to commercial traffic since the disaster struck Friday night.

According to reports, between 1,200 to 1,400 prisoners are now missing from jails.

President Joko Widodo "authorized us to accept global help for urgent disaster-response" the government's head of investment Tom Lembong said, as dozens of aid agencies and NGOs lined up to provide live-saving assistance and the government struggled to come to terms with the sheer scale of the disaster.

Officers bring the bodies of victims of the quake and tsunami to bury them in Palaroa village, in the city of Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Around midday, teams of workers, their mouths covered by masks, carried 18 bagged bodies and laid them in a trench. A backhoe waited to push soil on top of the dead.

Burials were expected to start later Monday.

On a hill above the city, authorities used an excavator to claw a long, mass grave from the sandy soil.

A mass burial of quake and tsunami victims was being prepared in a hard-hit city Monday as the need for heavy equipment to dig for survivors of the disaster that struck a central Indonesian island three days ago grows desperate.

The head of Indonesia's investment board said on Twitter Widodo had agreed to accept global help and he would coordinate private sector help from around the world. The quake and tsunami damaged airports, hospitals and other crucial infrastructure.

Indonesian volunteers dug mass graves for more than 1,000 bodies today after a quake and tsunami devastated swathes of Sulawesi, as authorities - struggling to deal with the sheer scale of the disaster - appealed for worldwide help. Most casualties are from Palu, as the situation in outlying areas like Donggala, Sigi and Parigi Moutong, is yet to be ascertained. Indonesia is majority Muslim, and religious custom calls for burials soon after death, typically within one day.

Search-and-rescue teams combed destroyed homes and buildings, including a collapsed eight-story hotel, for any trapped survivors, but they needed more heavy equipment to clear the rubble. A woman said she feared for her and her baby's safety due as residents raided shops for food and water.