Jakarta sends relief aid, teams to Central Sulawesi

Saul Bowman
October 2, 2018

According to the BBC, Vice-President Jusuf Kalla has warned that the final death toll could well surpass 2,000.

The country's President Joko Widodo (r) visited the island and pledged to rebuild the city.

Military and commercial aircraft are delivering some aid and supplies, but rescue teams are in desperate need of heavy equipment to reach possible survivors buried under rubble.

State logistics agency chief Budi Waseso said it was preparing to send hundreds of tonnes of government rice stocks to areas in Central Sulawesi affected by the disaster.

"We have not eaten for three days!" one woman yelled.

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.

Of particular concern is Donggala, a region of 300,000 people north of Palu and close to the epicenter of the quake, and two other districts, which have been cut off from communications since Friday.

In one devastated area in Palu, residents said dozens of people could still be buried in their homes.

Meanwhile, almost 50,000 people remain displaced and various parts of the nation "paralysed" amid the recovery efforts.

A ship is seen stranded on the shore in Wani, Donggala, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia on October 1.

In Sigi, south of Palu, the bodies of 34 children were found at a church which was engulfed in mud and debris, Indonesia Red Cross spokeswoman Aulia Arriani was quoted as saying by Reuters. "This is for sure a matter of life and death for the prisoners", she added.

Indonesia's Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Mr Wiranto, who goes by one name, said air transport is the most pressing need.

The ruins would be rebuilt, Widodo said, as aftershocks continued to rattle the region.

Pictures showed expanses of splintered wood, washed-up cars and trees mashed together, with rooftops and roads split asunder. Meanwhile, 10 Vietnamese are safe and at Palu's Mutiara Sis Al Jufri Airport camp.

Rescue teams are trying to dig out many victims believed buried in mud in an Indonesian city devastated by Friday's natural disaster and tsunami, which killed more than 800 people.

A Reuters witness said queues at petrol stations on the approaches to Palu stretched for miles. Convoys carrying food, water and fuel awaited police escorts to prevent pilfering before heading toward the city while residents streamed out.

People injured or affected by the quake and tsunami wait to be evacuated on an air force plane in Palu, Indonesia, on September 30.

Wiranto said a navy vessel capable of taking 1,000 people at a time would also be deployed to help with the evacuation.

Media footage showed chaotic scenes with officers struggling to keep order.

Search and rescue workers evacuate an quake and tsunami survivor trapped in a collapsed restaurant, in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. 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 quakes that devastated the Indonesian resort island of Lombok.

Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said conditions in the Petobo neighbourhood of Palu city are particularly bad because the quake caused a phenomenon called liquefaction, which occurs when loose water-filled soil near the surface loses its strength and collapses.

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