Indonesia natural disaster, tsunami toll reaches 1,649

Thursday, 11 Oct, 2018

Indonesian soldiers help offload the 10.6 tonnes of supplies brought by a Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft to Palu, the Indonesian port city devastated by a 7.5-magnitude quake and tsunami on 28 September.

"They erupted in cheers and gave a thumbs-up sign before we took off", Natapu said.

In the Balaroa neighbourhood, also laid waste by liquefaction, the most intact structure was a battered two-storey house, pitched over at almost 45 degrees with one side buried and a blue vehicle in the auto port. Rescuers found about 25 bodies, laying them out in a row of blue and orange bags.

The National Disaster Management Agency said that most bodies were retrieved from Palu, the provincial capital, followed by the districts of Donggala, Sigi, Parigi Mountong and a district of Pasang Kayu in nearby West Sulawesi province.

Some quake damage was evident but the coast did not appear to have been battered by the tsunami, a Reuters photographer said.

Doctors said many patients have been at high risk of infection because they were buried in mud.

"We're only collecting data to find out how many students are safe".

Officials said it was still unsafe to use heavy machinery in some areas where soil had loosened and collapsed after the natural disaster in a process known as liquefaction.

The death toll from the twin disaster on Sulawesi island that erased whole suburbs in Palu has reached 1,944, said local military spokesman M. Thohir.

"I am coming to Palu to report that we need tents, because 95 % of our village has been destroyed", said Simsom Mudju from Lindu, who clambered aboard the chopper to tell the outside world about his marooned community's plight.

"If a victim is not found after 14 days, then they will be declared missing", he said. Figures for more remote areas are trickling in but they seem to have suffered fewer deaths than the city. Michael Lesmeister, director of Germany's ISAR-Germany (International Search and Rescue) group, said landing permits for his staff and cargo had come through and, after a three-day wait, they were set to install a water-purification system in Palu.

But that did not happen near the epicenter of the quake and, even though many villagers ran up into the hills rising to the east of the coastline, tsunami waves did not crash into the small fishing communities and pretty beaches.

"I don't want her to feel like her father never tried to find her".

Nearly all of the dead have been buried in mass graves.

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

When aircraft of the CN 235, Airbus 320 and 737 types can operate, they will help accelerate the transport of aid relief to the victims of the natural disasters here and resume direct flights from Jakarta, the minister elaborated, adding full operation of the airport can be expected next week.

"We are so relieved to be alive but sad because so many of our congregation died", said Dewi Febriani, 26, after a service in a tent outside the Toraja Church in Jono Oge village, south of Palu.

The New Zealand Air Force has flown 120 residents out of the earthquake-ravaged Indonesian city of Palu. "It is not easy to obtain the exact number of those trapped by landslides, or liquefaction, or mud".