Bodies of mother clutching baby found as Indonesia quake toll tops 1,500

Frederick Owens
October 9, 2018

Officials fear at least 5,000 people may still be missing in Indonesia following a deadly natural disaster and tsunami which killed 1,763 people and devastated the northern island of Sulawesi.

Spokesman of the national disaster management agency Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said that most of the bodies were retrieved from Palu, the provincial capital, followed by the districts of Donggala, Sigi, Parigi Mountong and a district of Pasang Kayu in nearby West Sulawesi province.

The 7.5-magnitude quake struck just off the central island of Sulawesi at 18:03 (10:03) on Friday at a depth of 10km (6.2 miles), setting off a tsunami that soon after engulfed Palu with waves of up to 6m.

Australia's first delivery of urgent supplies will arrive soon in Indonesia to help up to 10,000 people displaced by the natural disaster and tsunami.

"There was a palpable sense of relief from the evacuees when they got into our Herc", he said.

"Luckily most people were already outside", said Rahman Lakuaci, chief of Lende Tovea village in Sirenja district.

The agency, which earlier Thursday says the death toll was 1,424, updated the number of dead to 1,558 on Twitter later the same day.

Most of the dead have been found in Palu, the region's main urban center. Two people from his congregation were missing, he said.

Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla, who arrived Friday in Palu to assess the situation, said it will take at least two years to reconstruct the disaster zone.

Indonesia's disaster agency says the death toll from the quake and tsunami that struck a central island last week has increased slightly to 1,424. They said they had clean water and noodles but not much else.

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The aid is part of a $3.6 million relief commitment, including more than 50 medical professionals, that Australia made on Wednesday.

He provided the updated figure Saturday at a news conference in Jakarta.

Indonesian police say 92 people have been arrested for looting goods in areas devastated by an quake and tsunami in Central Sulawesi province.

Outside the church, Malonda said the intensity of the disaster had taken even scientists by surprise and called it the will of God.

A villager stands amidst the destruction in Palu.

PALU, Indonesia, Oct 6 (Reuters) - More than a week after a major quake hit the west coast of Indonesia's Sulawesi island, rescuers workers were focusing on Saturday on what looks sure to be a long, hard search for bodies, many buried in appalling morasses of debris and mud.

Military officials said Palu's airport is expected to reopen for civilian traffic later on Thursday.

But the trickle of global aid to Palu and local efforts to help the survivors have accelerated in recent days.

"The earth was like a blender, blending everything in its way", said Hasnah, who like many Indonesians goes by only one name.

In coordination with the Government of Indonesia, IOM is preparing to send an aid convoy from the south of the island to the north, where needs are greatest.

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