World News

French rescuers search for bodies in debris of Indonesian quake disaster

French rescuers search for bodies in debris of Indonesian quake disaster

Indonesia's disaster agency says the death toll from the quake and tsunami that struck central Sulawesi island a week ago has surged past 1,500.

Indonesian national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho says the body of a South Korean missing since last Friday's quake and tsunami in central Sulawesi has been found.

An evacuee and his son stand near his tent after Friday prayers outside a damaged mosque caused by the massive natural disaster and tsunami in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia Oct. 5, 2018.

The sense of relief was "palpable" among the 120 survivors huddled on the deck of the NZ Defence Force Hercules aircraft as it took off from the tsunami devastated Indonesian city of Palu.

"They said they would come with the heavy machines but they didn't", she said.

He said that a further 5,000 people were suspected to be missing in the Palu subdistricts of Balaroa and Petobo but that officials were still looking to verify the claims.

He said that many people are still afraid of been trapped in the ruins in Palu, the provincial capital, and the districts of Donggala and Sigi.

The tens of thousands left homeless by the disaster are scattered across Palu and beyond, many squatting outside their ruined homes or bunkered down in makeshift camps and entirely dependent on handouts to survive. Two people from his congregation were missing, he said.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi says military transport aircraft from India and Singapore have arrived to help in relief efforts in central Sulawesi, which was hit by a powerful natural disaster and tsunami. They said they had clean water and noodles but not much else.

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"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". He says how many plane loads of aid fly from Darwin will depend on future Indonesian requests for help.

The official death toll from the September 28 disaster rose to 1,763. Many hundreds of people are now entombed in slowly drying mud churned with heaps of debris and vehicles.

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

A villager stands amidst the destruction in Palu.

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

Traumatised survivors are desperate for help.

The Indonesian authorities and locals at Palu and Balikpapan thanked the NZDF personnel for helping, Natapu said.

The country's disaster agency announced the search for survivors would end Thursday, despite fears that scores of people still remain buried under heaps of rubble and mud.

In coordination with the Government of Indonesia, IOM is preparing to send an aid convoy from the south of the island to the north, where needs are greatest.


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