Tsunami sur­vivors sleep on roads

Af­ter­shocks hit is­land as bod­ies line the streets, death toll could rise to thou­sands

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - W RLD - —Agen­cies

Palu: Af­ter­shocks rocked the coastal city of Palu on the In­done­sian is­land of Su­lawesi un­til Satur­day af­ter­noon fol­low­ing the mas­sive earthquake on Fri­day, which trig­gered the tsunami. The se­ries of earth­quakes were felt in an area with 2.4 mil­lion peo­ple.

Res­i­dents too afraid to sleep in­doors camped out in the dark­ness on Satur­day while vic­tims re­counted har­row­ing sto­ries of be­ing sep­a­rated from their loved ones.

Some of the in­jured, in­clud­ing Dwi Haris, who suf­fered a bro­ken back and shoul­der, rested out­side Palu’s Army Hos­pi­tal, where pa­tients were be­ing treated out­doors due to con­tin­u­ing strong af­ter­shocks. Tears filled his eyes as he re­counted feel­ing the vi­o­lent earthquake shake the fifth floor ho­tel room he shared with his wife and daugh­ter. “There was no time to save our­selves. I was squeezed into the ru­ins of the wall, I think,” said Haris, adding that the fam­ily was in town for a wed­ding. “I heard my wife cry for help, but then si­lence. I don’t know what hap­pened to her and my child. I hope they are safe.”

Nina, a 23-year-old woman, was work­ing at a laun­dry ser­vice shop not far from the beach when the quake hit. She said the quake de­stroyed her work­place, but she man­aged to es­cape and quickly went home to get her mother and younger brother. “We tried to find shel­ter, but then I heard peo­ple shout­ing, ‘Wa­ter! Wa­ter!’” she re­called, cry­ing. “The three of

us ran, but got sep­a­rated. Now I don’t know where my mother and brother are. I don’t know how to get in­for­ma­tion. I don’t know what to do.”

Su­topo Purwo Nu­groho, the spokesman for Indonesia’s disaster mit­i­ga­tion agency BNPB, dur­ing a brief­ing in Jakarta, de­scribed the dam­age as “ex­ten­sive” and said thou­sands of houses, hos­pi­tals, shop­ping malls and ho­tels had col­lapsed. A bridge washed away and the main high­way to Palu was cut off due to a land­slide.

Bod­ies of some vic­tims were found trapped un­der the rub­ble of col­lapsed build­ings, he said, adding that the of­fi­cial death toll stood at 384 with 540 peo­ple in­jured, and 29 miss­ing. Pho­tos showed bod­ies be­ing lined up along the street.

Nu­groho said the ca­su­al­ties and the dam­age could be greater along the coast­line 300 km north of Palu, an area called Dong­gala, which is closer to the epi­cen­tre of the quake. Com­mu­ni­ca­tions “were to­tally crip­pled with no in­for­ma­tion” from Dong­gala, Nu­groho said. Over 6,00,000 peo­ple live in Dong­gala and Palu.

“We’re now get­ting lim­ited com­mu­ni­ca­tions about the de­struc­tion in Palu city, but we have heard noth­ing from Dong­gala and this is ex­tremely wor­ry­ing,” the Red Cross said in a state­ment. “This is al­ready a tragedy, but it could get much worse,” it said.

Vice Pres­i­dent Jusuf Kalla said the death toll could rise to thou­sands.


(L-R) A video grab of a tsunami wave hit­ting the shore on Fri­day; the ru­ins of cars seen in Palu, Su­lawesi, Indonesia on Satur­day

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