Indonesia quake death toll tops 1,200 as aid trickles in

October 2, 2018 Off By Web Desk

The death toll from two earthquakes and a tsunami that devastated parts of Indonesia’s Sulawesi island has risen to 1,234, an official said Tuesday, as authorities struggled to bring aid to survivors.

At least 799 were injured, and 99 others were listed as missing after Friday’s disaster, National Disaster Management Agency spokesman Sutopo Nugroho said. More than 61,000 are displaced.

Most of the casualties were in the city of Palu, the capital of Central Sulawesi province, while the extent of the disaster in other affected areas such Donggala and Sigi, has yet to be fully revealed.

The island was hit by two earthquakes on Friday, with the second, of 7.4-magnitude, triggering a tsunami.

The death toll is expected to increase as officials believe that many people are still buried in two neighborhoods in Palu, where the ground turned to mud during the quake, in a phenomenon known as liquefaction.

Anger was growing among survivors who have not received assistance. “We all are hopeless at the situation,” said Rahmat, who has sought refuge in a church complex in Palu. “We are tired and confused.”

Senior security minister Wiranto said food aid was being delivered, albeit gradually, while electricity and mobile phone connections were slowly being restored.

“Food supplies are being sent by air and sea and now also by land,” Wiranto said. “The volume is growing.”

Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo admitted that many displaced people had not received adequate aid.

“Food is limited, fuel is limited and clean water, and clothing are insufficient,” he said.

He said there had been cases of residents stopping trucks carrying food bound for worst-hit areas. Police have been assigned to guard food convoys, he said.

In a glimmer of good news, a man was rescued late Monday from a small cavity in the ruins of an office building where he was working in Palu, a video released by the National Search and Rescue Agency showed.

A rescuer was heard saying “Breathe easy” and “God is great!” as the man was pulled from the rubble.

“Can you walk?” a rescuer asked the man, identified as Sapri Nusin, a manager at a finance company.

“Yes, but I’m very thirsty,” he said. He was immediately taken by an ambulance.

Elsewhere in the quake-hit province, rescuers found the bodies of 34 students who were taking part in a camp at a church training center in Sigi district, the Indonesian Red Cross said.

The victims were among 86 students who were reported missing after Friday’s 7.4-magnitude earthquake, according to Aulia Arriani, spokeswoman for the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI).

The fate of the remaining students was not clear, she said.

“The 34 bodies were found by our team of 16 volunteers on Monday,” she said.

She said that the PMI team estimated that 50 percent of houses in Sigi were damaged by the earthquake.

“The hardest part was wading through the mud for one and a half hours carrying dead bodies,” she said, citing the account of the search team.

As parts of Sulawesi struggled in the aftermath of the disaster, a magnitude-6.3 earthquake struck Sumba island on Tuesday. The island lies about 2,000 kilometers to the south of Sulawesi province.

There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties, but the quake caused some cracks on the walls of buildings, according to Martina Djera, head of the civil protection agency in East Sumba district.

“The quake was felt strongly. Residents fled their houses in panic. School children cried in fear,” she said, according to dpa.

The quake occurred at 7:16 am (0016 GMT Tuesday) at a depth of 10 kilometers, with the epicenter 66 kilometers south-west of East Sumba, the geophysics agency said. She said the full impact of the earthquake was still being assessed.

The quake followed smaller temblors in the area minutes earlier.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Monday authorized the acceptance of international aid. His security minister said 18 countries had offered emergency assistance.

The Sulawesi quakes came after more than 550 people were killed and more than 400,000 were displaced in August in a series of powerful shocks that devastated the Indonesian resort island of Lombok.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area known for seismic upheavals and volcanic eruptions.

About 230,000 people in a dozen countries died after a magnitude-9.1 earthquake off the west coast of Indonesia’s Sumatra island spawned a devastating tsunami on December 26, 2004.

Source: International Islamic News Agency