Indonesia's earthquakes: Palu airport to resume full operation soon

Lamar Ellis
October 10, 2018

Indonesian rescue workers will stop searching for the bodies of victims of an quake and tsunami on the island of Sulawesi on Thursday, the national disaster mitigation agency said on Sunday.

Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a briefing in Jakarta that the search will continue for hundreds still missing, including many buried in deep mud and debris from collapsed houses and buildings.

Search teams pulled bodies from obliterated neighborhoods in the disaster-stricken Indonesian city of Palu on Saturday as more aid rolled in and the government said it was considering making devastated areas into mass graves. "She was wearing the exact scout uniform, with a sweater with the words "Geng 97", her father, Anwar, who like many Indonesian goes by only one name, told Reuters.

"I hope my dead son has gone to heaven because he was in the middle of praying", said Abu Shamsuddin, who attended Friday prayers in the afternoon outside the damaged Agung Mosque in Palu city.

Across the city, nine schools were destroyed, 22 teachers were killed and 14 were missing, the disaster agency said, adding that 140 tents had been set up for classes.

Despite that, Allibert said it had been hard to get permits for Sulawesi.

Rocked by back-to-back disasters of an quake and a tsunami, the scale of the devastation on Sulawesi island is still being uncovered.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi says military transport aircraft from India and Singapore have arrived to help in relief efforts in central Sulawesi, which was hit by a powerful quake and tsunami.

Only about 3,100 km (1,920 miles) of evacuation routes have been established against a need for 11,900 km (7,390 miles), while there are only 50 evacuation shelters compared with estimates of 2,200 needed, the data showed.

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After days of delays, global aid is slowly making its way to the disaster zone, where the United Nations says nearly 200,000 people need humanitarian assistance.

Worldwide volunteers said many camps lack adequate sanitation, sparking fears of the spread of disease. The French rescuers said on their Facebook page that 40 people, including six workers, were still missing there.

Indonesia sits along the Pacific "Ring of Fire", the world's most tectonically active region, and its 260 million people are vulnerable to earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions.

Traumatised survivors are desperate for help. He said security will be necessary for economic activity to resume.

Flight Lieutenant Dave Natapu said the destruction at Palu was worse than he expected. They will help evacuate several injured patients waiting at the airport.

His wife and two daughters have swept away in the tsunami that hit Palu's seafront after the quake.

They are unsure when they'll be able to rebuild and spend hours each day often futilely trying to secure necessities such as fuel for generators. The death toll has topped 1500.

The U.N. announced a $15 million allocation to bolster relief efforts.

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