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Indonesia quake, tsunami toll reaches 1,347 as desperation mounts

Indonesia quake, tsunami toll reaches 1,347 as desperation mounts

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PALU, Sept. 30, 2018 (Xinhua) -- Photo taken on Sept. 30, 2018 shows the view inside a building in Palu in Central Sulawesi province, Indonesia. Death toll from Indonesia
PALU, Oct. 1, 2018 (Xinhua) -- Photo taken on Oct. 1, 2018 show debris of buildings in Palu after the deadly earth quake and tsunami in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. Over 1,203 people were killed in Palu, Donggala district, Parigi Mountong district and North Mamuju district, according to the Disaster Management Institute of Indonesia, Care for Humanity and the Humanity Data Center. (Xinhua/Iqbal Lubis/IANS)
PALU, Oct. 1, 2018 (Xinhua) -- Photo taken on Oct. 1, 2018 show debris of buildings in Palu after the deadly earth quake and tsunami in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. Over 1,203 people were killed in Palu, Donggala district, Parigi Mountong district and North Mamuju district, according to the Disaster Management Institute of Indonesia, Care for Humanity and the Humanity Data Center. (Xinhua/Iqbal Lubis/IANS)
Palu (Indonesia), Oct 2 (IANS) Indonesian authorities on Tuesday raised the death toll to 1,347 in the devastating 7.5-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit Sulawesi island last week even as the survivors grew increasingly desperate for food, water and fuel. The number of dead was expected to climb further, officials said.
The twin disasters on Friday left the coastal city of Palu, Donggala region and the adjoining areas on the island in ruins. Indonesia's National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) said that toll was expected to increase as hundreds of people were feared to be still trapped under the rubble of buildings.
NDMA spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said that about 800 people with serious injuries were admitted to different hospitals. With the ground still shaking from aftershocks, people were still afraid to go indoors.
An estimated 2.4 million people were affected by the disaster, 61,867 were displaced and 66,000 homes were destroyed, officials said.
The situation of survivors was dire as families scrambled to get even the most basic of goods. On Tuesday, hundreds waited in line in the blazing sun, standing in the ruins, in the hopes of obtaining food, water and fuel.
Between Donggala and Palu, the "road is lined with people begging for food and water", said Fatwa Fadillah, programme manager for disaster risk reduction at Catholic Relief Services.
Reports of looting were widespread as survivors searched deserted buildings for supplies, CNN reported.
Across Palu, a damaged bridge, blocked roads, a partially closed airport and broken telecommunications made it difficult to bring aid into the affected areas.
Officials said that nearly 6,400 personnel from an array of government agencies were involved in efforts to find survivors, recover bodies and evacuate people.
Authorities raised the death toll after rescue teams were able to enter the areas that had been inaccessible since the tragedy struck. Sutopo, however, said that there were still areas in Sulawesi that were difficult to access.
Indonesian Red Cross officials said that the bodies of 34 Indonesian students were found under a church buried by a mudslide. They were among a group of 86 students reported missing from a Bible camp in the Jonooge Church Training Centre.
The whereabouts of the other 52 students were not known.
Hunt was on for survivors in the ruins of four-storey hotel Roa Roa in the town. An estimated 50 people were inside the establishment when it collapsed. Till now only 12 people have been recovered.
Rescue workers also started looking for survivors in Donggala where some 300,000 people live. Local television broadcasts showed angry residents screaming at Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, asking for help.
Officials said 26 countries and two international organisations offered assistance. Colonel Muhammad Thohir of the Indonesian Army said that gasoline and water supplies were being transported to the Sulawesi island but they were still insufficient for the people affected.
Indonesian officials said that priorities included sending food to those in need, conducting a mass burial of victims and guaranteeing the security of the airport, which was expected to start receiving commercial flights on Wednesday.
In what has become a "daily ritual" now, 54 bodies were buried by Tuesday morning and more trucks full of dead were on their way to Poboya Cemetery in Palu. The day before, 153 were buried here in mass graves to prevent an outbreak of disease caused by decomposing bodies.
Still, bodies remained unburied on the side of the roads. "The smell of death is strong in the air," said Radika Pinto, the area manager for World Vision, an international Christian aid organization.
An earthquake measuring 6 on the Richter scale rocked Sumba island of Indonesia on Tuesday, but there were no reports of any damage.
--IANS
soni/mr

(This story was auto-published from a syndicated feed. No part of the story has been edited by The Quint.)

(This story was auto-published from a syndicated feed. No part of the story has been edited by The Quint.)

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