Indonesia quake, tsunami toll reaches 1,649

10 October, 2018, 03:14 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • Indonesian soldiers unloading supplies brought in by the New Zealanders

The confirmed death toll from the devastating natural disaster and tsunami on Sulawesi island neared 2,000 on Monday, but thousands more remained unaccounted for and officials have said search teams planned to stop looking for victims later this week.

The announcement came after the official death toll from the 7.5 magnitude quake and a tsunami it triggered September 28 rose to 1,763.

He said the survivors, many of whom had slept outdoors for days, queued to get into the Hercules aircraft.

More than 82,000 military and civilian personnel, as well as volunteers, are on the ground while Indonesian army choppers are undertaking supply runs to remote areas blocked off by the disaster.

National Disaster Management Agency spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said that among the victims, 1,413 were from Palu city, the hardest-hit in twin disasters, Xinhua news agency reported.

"You have people circling those areas trying to get in but it's literally inaccessible", he said, adding that even standing just 200 metres from the remains of buildings "you can't actually get into those areas because the mud is thigh- or waist-deep".

The official death toll from the quake and the tsunami it triggered stands at 1,571, but it will certainly rise.

Officials fear at least 5,000 people may still be missing in Indonesia following a deadly natural disaster and tsunami that killed 1,763 people and devastated the northern island of Sulawesi.

'Most of the bodies we have found are not intact, and that poses a danger for the rescuers.

Aid is continuing to pour into hard-hit areas of Indonesia's Sulawesi island, which has been rattled by some 450 aftershocks since an quake and tsunami struck just over a week ago.

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Marsudi says 18 countries have offered help, and agreements have been reached with some of them.

Sulawesi is one of Indonesia's five main islands and, like the others, is exposed to frequent earthquakes and tsunamis.

Air Loadmaster Sergeant Daniel Swanson and Indonesian soldiers help offload supplies flown into Palu on an RNZAF Hercules.

He provided the updated figure Saturday at a news conference in Jakarta.

"It's sad to see our school like this", said Dewi Rahmawati, 17, who expects to graduate next year and wants to study economics at university.

"I'd feel very sad if the search mission ends because there are so many still missing and buried", he said.

Indonesian police say 92 people have been arrested for looting goods in areas devastated by an natural disaster and tsunami in Central Sulawesi province.

Indonesia has the world's biggest Muslim population but also pockets of Christians, including on Sulawesi, and other religions.

Hercules planes carrying tons of donations from Australia and the United States reached Palu yesterday morning, as did a plane chartered by Save the Children and another carrying a South African medical team. Authorities have said villagers should only take food and that shops can be compensated later. Officials have said that it is not safe for heavy equipment to operate in those areas and that they fear the risk of the spread of disease from decomposed bodies. The death toll has topped 1500.

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