Indonesia tsunami: Death Toll Rises To Nearly 1,350

 Indonesia tsunami: Death Toll Rises To Nearly 1,350

The number of people known to have died in Indonesia in Friday’s earthquake and tsunami has risen to 1,347, the country’s disaster response agency says.

The death toll jumped on Tuesday from a previous confirmed figure of 844.

The 7.5-magnitude quake struck just off the central island of Sulawesi, setting off a tsunami that engulfed the coastal city of Palu.

People there are growing increasingly desperate for food, fuel and water. Humanitarian relief convoys entering the city are now being escorted by soldiers and police.

And there are fears some survivors may still be trapped under the rubble of buildings. Everyone we meet in Palu is focused on trying to get basic goods for their families. All normal services in the town have broken down and there’s little running water, power, food or drinking water. People are desperate.

We saw one group of armed police guarding a shop, being pressed by local people to let them in.

Suddenly the police shouted, warning everyone to back off, followed by volleys of shots fired in the air and tear gas. Some of the men threw stones at the police; for a moment it seemed it might escalate. Yet an hour later the police backed down and let the crowd in. The atmosphere was transformed, from anger to jubilation as people came running down the street clutching shopping bags.

The police tried to stop people taking non-food items – some were made to empty the sacks bulging with commandeered produce, and hand over plastic toys and toiletries.

One officer wearily told me it was his responsibility to protect the shop – but what could he do when people needed so much?
Indonesian Red Cross officials have told the BBC 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 are not known.

“The mud conditions in that area are terrible, we have to walk about 1.5 hours to reach [the mudslide area], that makes it very difficult,” Ridwan Sobri, a spokesperson for the Indonesian Red Cross told the BBC.

Mr Sobri said the identities and ages of the students could not yet be confirmed.

Rescuers are also still hunting for survivors in the ruins of a four-storey hotel in the town.

An estimated 50 people were inside the Hotel Roa Roa when it collapsed. About 12 people have been recovered – only three came out alive.
“We have to be very careful so we don’t risk hurting any survivors when we move the debris,” the head of the rescue team, Agus Haryono, told Reuters.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has called for reinforcements, telling the national search-and-rescue agency to send more police officers and soldiers into affected districts.

“There are some main priorities that we must tackle and the first is to evacuate, find and save victims who’ve not yet been found,” he said.

Why are people struggling to get help?
Across Palu, a damaged bridge, blocked roads, a partially closed airport and broken telecommunications have made it difficult to bring help into the affected area, and impossible to contact more remote regions.
With hospitals damaged, injured people have been treated in the open and at least one military field hospital has been set up.

The military has taken over the airport to fly aid in, and injured people and other evacuees out.

But for thousands of people wanting to get the first commercial flight out of Palu, the wait continues.

“I’d get a plane anywhere. I’ve been waiting for two days. Haven’t eaten, barely had a drink,” 44-year-old food vendor Wiwid told Reuters. On Monday, 3,000 to 5,000 people who wanted to be evacuated from Palu swarmed the airport hoping to hitch a ride on a military Hercules plane. The military arranged for them to depart on ferries instead.

Hercules planes are being used to evacuate the injured who are in urgent need of medical treatment.

The United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs says there are nearly 200,000 people in urgent need of assistance, about a quarter of them children.

Many are in areas that are not the main focus of government recovery efforts, it adds.

Tolani Giwa

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.