Time running out as Indonesia toll tops 1,400

Hannah Rogers
October 8, 2018

Most of the casualties were recovered in Palu and the districts of Donggala, Sigi and Parigi Mountong.

National disaster mitigation agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told a briefing the main roads to the south, west and east of Palu had been opened but there has been scant information about conditions on the road to the north, along the coast toward the epicenter of the quake, 78 km (50 miles) from Palu.

Soldiers, police, government personnel and volunteers flocked in the catastrophe-rattled areas to join a total of 6,399 rescuers already on the spot, and are rushing to retrieve victims under the ruins, he said.

Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho posted a graphic on his Twitter account showing around 450 aftershocks being recorded in the area since the September 28 quake, but they have decreased in frequency and intensity.

"We pray for the ones who have died and for those yet to be found", the imam said.

A network of tsunami-detecting buoys has been out of action since 2012. Mount Soputan sent a plume of ash towering almost 20,000 feet into the sky Wednesday, hundreds of miles from where the quake and tsunami struck.

Nugroho said most of the those confirmed dead had been buried.

"It's really hard to find water and we don't have a place to shower, but thank God we got some aid from the government, including a medical checkup", said Masrita Arifin, who was camped out a few hundred meters (yards) from her family's heavily damaged home.

About 1,700 houses in one neighborhood were swallowed up by ground liquefaction, which happens when soil shaken by an quake behaves like a liquid, and hundreds of people are believed to have perished, the disaster agency said.

So far, Indonesia only relies on five buoys installed by foreign countries for tsunami warnings.

She says: "Australia is considering further support for the disaster, with the death toll expected to rise and millions affected by the crisis".

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Hidayat was not on Sulawesi last Friday when the 7.5 magnitude natural disaster struck, triggering a phenomenon called soil liquefaction, which turns the ground into a roiling quagmire.

More than 80,000 people have been displaced and thousands of homes and buildings in Palu and surrounding areas have been destroyed.

Four worldwide organizations also offered aids, according to him.

As the search for victims continued, aid workers raced to get shelter, food, medicine and other badly needed supplies to survivors.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Wednesday visited disaster-hit Palu to check the disaster-relief efforts. The report said the two were paragliding athletes taking part in an event in the area.

Doctors said many patients have been at high risk of infection because they were buried in mud.

He said as of Wednesday, power supply in Palu has reached 40 percent of its normal capacity. Gen. Dedi Prasetyo said security was being ramped up to ensure law and order after 92 people were arrested for looting goods such as motor oil, tires and farming equipment.

At least 45 people were caught red-handed in the looting of stores.

Palu's port, a key transit point for aid, has been damaged.

Soldiers unload food aid from a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) supply plane at Mutiara Sis Al-Jufri Airport in Palu.

A girl, estimated to be 4 years old, who was dropped off outside a military hospital is pictured in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, October 5, 2018.

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