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15:10, 01 October 2018

Indonesia earthquake and tsunami: Dead buried in mass grave

Indonesia earthquake and tsunami: Dead buried in mass grave

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Volunteers have begun burying victims of Indonesia’s deadly earthquake and tsunami in a mass grave.

Friday’s disaster devastated swathes of the eastern Sulawesi island and has left at least 844 men and women dead.

Some remote areas have however to be contacted, and there are fears that the death toll could rise further.

A lack of heavy lifting gear is hampering rescuers’ attempts to reach folks who stay alive in the ruins of collapsed buildings.

Dozens of individuals are feared to be underneath the rubble of one hotel alone, the Roa-Roa in the devastated coastal resort of Palu.

“Communication is limited, heavy machinery is restricted… it’s not sufficient for the numbers of buildings that collapsed,” said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency.

Yenni Suryani, of Catholic Relief Solutions, said aid agencies have been struggling to get staff into impacted regions as the major airport at Palu was broken, landslides had reduce road links and “power is out nearly everywhere”.

Some survivors have been looting shops for meals, water and fuel, telling reporters they have run out of supplies.

Reuters news agency reports that police are escorting aid convoys to avert supplies being stolen.

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President Joko Widodo has welcomed offers of international support.

On a check out to the area, the president urged a “day and night” work to rescue survivors.

Meanwhile, government officials say some 1,200 inmates escaped from 3 prisons in the area as the quake struck.

Victims buried

In the hills above Palu, volunteers filling a mass grave have been instructed to prepare for a total of 1,300 victims to arrive.

Trucks arrived with bodies wrapped in orange, yellow and black body bags. They were dragged into the grave and motorised diggers poured earth on best.

But many people are nevertheless hunting for missing loved ones.

Adi told AFP he was hugging his wife by the beach in Palu when the tsunami struck, and has not seen her because.

“When the wave came, I lost her,” he mentioned. “I was carried about 50 metres. I couldn’t hold something.”

Patients and corpses side by side

By Rebecca Henschke, BBC News, Palu

Lying on a stretcher in the dark outside the Mamboro health clinic in Palu is a five-year-old girl with a broken leg. She was found alone, Doctor Sasono tells me. “We do not know where her household is and she doesn’t bear in mind where they reside.” His clinic has no power and is operating out of medical supplies.

A few metres from her stretcher bed are rows of bodies in bags. The smell of decomposition fills the air. Dr Sasono says they will be buried in mass graves to stop the spread of illnesses: “They are starting to smell. We want to wait for relatives to choose them up, but we can’t wait any longer.”

Rows of rubble lie all along the shoreline where vibrant fishing villages once stood.

People’s possessions lie smashed with each other, with vehicles and boats tossed around by the huge waves. Amid the rubble are tents where households are sleeping out in the open.

  • Read Rebecca’s first complete report from the disaster zone

Why was the tsunami so destructive?

The 7.5-magnitude quake occurred at a depth of 10km (6.2 miles) just off the central island of Sulawesi at 18:03 (10:03 GMT) on Friday, setting off a tsunami.

The earthquake was potent but shallow and with more lateral than vertical movement, not normally the sort of tremor that sets off tsunamis.

A sophisticated tsunami warning system was put in location across the complete Pacific area right after the 2004 disaster, which killed nearly a quarter of a million people.

A tsunami warning was issued soon after the earthquake hit on Friday, but a lot of individuals in Palu did not acquire alerts since of power cuts brought on by the tremor. There had been also no sirens positioned along the coast.

Videos show men and women screaming as waves 6m (20ft) high power over the beach – where a festival was being set-up – sweeping up every thing in their path.

Indonesia, a single of the world’s most disaster-prone countries, lies on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where tectonic plates collide and a lot of of the world’s volcanic eruptions and earthquakes happen.

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Published at Mon, 01 Oct 2018 12:53:34 +0000

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