Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

Confirmed deaths near 2000, still more likely in Indonesia

UK and Indonesian Aid being loaded onto an RAF A400M aircraft in Jakarta Indonesia bound for Balikpapan to be distributed to the earthquake and tsunami hit island of Sulawesi. Friday NZDF evacuates 120 quake survivors on Hercules aircraft from Palu
Faye Gross | 10 October, 2018, 03:15

SEARCH teams in Indonesia have pulled more bodies from neighbourhoods in the natural disaster and tsunami-stricken city of Palu as further worldwide aid arrived and humanitarian workers fanned out.

The 7.5 magnitude quake on September 28 brought down many buildings in the small city on Sulawesi island, 1,500 km (30 miles) northeast of Jakarta, while tsunami waves smashed into its beachfront.

Bodies are still being recovered from the ruins of buildings in the small city of Palu and from neighborhoods hit by liquefaction, a phenomenon that turns the ground into a roiling quagmire, in the south of city.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla, visiting the disaster zone, said recovery would be completed in two years, beginning with a two-month emergency response phase when everyone who lost their house would get temporary shelter.

A team of French rescue experts began hunting through a huge expanse of debris on the outskirts of the Indonesian city of Palu yesterday, looking for hands, feet or any body parts of quake victims sticking out of the mud.

The victims can be considered "martyrs", he said.

His wife and two daughters have swept away in the tsunami that hit Palu's seafront after the natural disaster.

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

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"Most of the bodies we have found are not intact, and that poses a danger for the rescuers". The government shunned foreign aid this year when earthquakes struck the island of Lombok but said it would accept help from overseas for Sulawesi.

"We have vaccinated our teams, but we need to be extra cautious as they are exposed to health hazards".

Air Loadmaster Sergeant Daniel Swanson and Indonesian soldiers help offload supplies flown into Palu on an RNZAF Hercules. Indonesia has traditionally been reluctant to be seen as having to rely on outside help for natural disasters.

Sulawesi is one of Indonesia's five main islands.

National disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho provided the updated figure Thursday at a news conference in Jakarta. He said security will be necessary for economic activity to resume. "We have to be very careful to avoid contamination", Yusuf Latif, a spokesperson for Indonesia's search and rescue effort, told AFP from Palu.

"What is the benefit for us Indonesian people, especially in this time of catastrophe", Fadli Zon, deputy speaker of parliament from the opposition Gerindra party, said on Twitter, taking issue with government spending on the meeting. The military planes are also being used to evacuate injured people and other survivors from Palu, the biggest city in the earthquake-hit region.

Several other nations have also sent planeloads of aid. "I didn't manage to take any valuables but we are alive and that's most important", Yuli, who goes by one name, said on local television. 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. Relief aid started arriving in the more remote areas of Sulawesi Island.

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