Indonesia Tsunami Death Toll Surges As Satellite Images Reveal Scale Of Destruction

Hugh Fox
October 2, 2018

Military personnel help a Palu resident board a military plane at Mutiara Sis Al-Jufri Airport in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia on Monday. He was talking to his rescuers as they took him away but his condition was not known. Many gas stations in Palu have sustained heavy damage, and residents trying to leave the area are stuck waiting for gas. Video footage showed residents walking from body bag to body bag, opening the tops to check if they could identify faces.

Many have spent the last two days desperately searching for loved ones.

The trench dug in Palu was 10 meters by 100 meters (33 feet by 330 feet) and can be enlarged if needed, said Willem Rampangilei, chief of Indonesia's National Disaster Mitigation Agency.

Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation but there are small pockets of religious minorities, including Christians, across the archipelago of 260 million people.

For now, many people are having to sleep on the street with limited access to food or vital medications, the BBC reports. Authorities have urged them to return within one week.

Some survivors clambered through detritus hunting for anything salvageable, some crowded around daisy-chained power strips at the few buildings that still have power, others queued for water, cash or petrol being brought in via armed police convoy.

Palu on Aug 17, 2018, before a tsunami hit the area. Roads and bridges were destroyed.

Rescuers discovered the bodies of 34 students buried in the landslide, Indonesia Red Cross spokeswoman Aulia Arriani told AFP news agency on Tuesday.

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The 7.5 magnitude quake struck on Friday and triggered a tsunami, which caused massive mud slides that have swallowed up hundreds of homes. Almost 50,000 people have been displaced from their homes in Palu alone, Nugroho said.

In Palu, workers scrambled to rescue about 50 people trapped beneath the debris of the Roa Roa hotel.

Indonesian media showed images of survivors entering the heavily damaged malls and supermarkets to loot supplies, despite the risk of building collapse.

Nugroho said only two of the 122 foreigners in the area remained unaccounted for - one from South Korea and the other from Belgium. The man had been in the region for a paragliding competition.

"We feel like we are stepchildren here because all the help is going to Palu", said Mohamad Taufik, 38, from the area of Donggala, who said five of his relatives are still missing.

Chief security minister Wiranto said on Monday the government was trying to meet survivors' immediate needs and would accept offers of global help.

In response, President Joko Widodo opened the door to the dozens of worldwide aid agencies and NGOs who are lined up to provide life-saving assistance.

Setiawan said the first government rescue teams arrived in his area Sunday, but because the mud was still unstable, they were only able to take photos documenting the tragic scene.

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There are still hopes that people may yet be alive, buried under rubble across the region.

Thousands have been left homeless after an quake and tsunami devastated the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. "Connection is still cut off. Let me know if you see them".

The Chair of Indonesia's Investment Coordinating Board, Thomas Lembong, took to Twitter on Monday to announce that Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has authorized the acceptance of worldwide aid for the disaster.

Widodo has authorized the country to request worldwide aid relief.

Australia's ambassador was consulting the Indonesian government on further support.

With hospitals damaged, injured people have been treated in the open and at least one military field hospital has been set up.

With the ground still shaking from aftershocks, people were still too afraid to go indoors. A German tourist is reportedly safe and staying at a resort in Donggala.

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