News ID: 232042
Published: 1109 GMT September 30, 2018

Indonesia quake-tsunami toll tops 800

Indonesia quake-tsunami toll tops 800

Rescue officials feared the full scale of Indonesia's earthquake and tsunami could climb far past the more than 800 already confirmed dead, as several large coastal towns remained cut off Sunday by damaged roads and downed communication lines.

The country's disaster agency said the death toll more than doubled to 832, and nearly all of those were from the hard-hit city of Palu on the island of Sulawesi. The regencies of Donggala, Sigi and Parigi Moutong — with a combined population of 1.2 million — had yet to be fully assessed, AP reported.

"The death toll is believed to be still increasing since many bodies were still under the wreckage, while many have not been reached," said disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho. He said a mass burial would be held Sunday for health reasons.

Bodies covered in blue and yellow tarps lined the streets of Palu, while rescuers dug through rubble in the hopes of finding survivors from the twin disasters that struck Friday evening. There was particular focus on the eight-story Roa-Roa Hotel, where voices from underneath the rubble could be heard calling out for help on Saturday.

The cries from beneath the hotel, which appeared to have toppled over with its walls splintered like pickup sticks, had gone silent by Sunday afternoon. Officials had estimated some 50 people could be inside.

"We are trying our best. Time is so important here to save people," said Muhammad Syaugi, head of the national search and rescue team. "Heavy equipment is on the way."

Aid and supplies were being sent to the area via military and commercial aircraft, including helicopters, to reach badly affected areas. Officials said the area was lacking medical supplies, fuel, fresh water and experts.

Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo toured Palu on Sunday.

"There are many challenges," Jokowi said. "We have to do many things soon, but conditions do not allow us to do so."

He said rescuers were having difficulty recovering victims because of a shortage of heavy equipment. He said authorities were deploying more heavy machinery that he hoped would arrive Sunday night so emergency workers can help recover more victims on Monday.

It's the latest natural disaster to hit Indonesia, which is frequently struck by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis because of its location on the "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin. In December 2004, a massive magnitude 9.1 earthquake off Sumatra island in western Indonesia triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries. Last month, a powerful quake on the island of Lombok killed 505 people.

In Donggala, the site closest to the earthquake's epicenter, aerial footage aired on Metro TV showed the sugary blond sands of beaches swept out to sea, as were some buildings. Damage to some buildings in the town was severe, with plywood walls shredded and chunks of concrete scattered on the pavement. Much of the damage, however, appeared limited to the waterfront.

 

 

   
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