Observer on Saturday - - News -

A week af­ter a ma­jor earth­quake brought dev­as­ta­tion to In­done­sia's Su­lawesi is­land, Has­nah has trou­ble re­mem­ber­ing all of the dead rel­a­tives she's try­ing to find in the tan­gled ex­panse of mud and de­bris that used to be her neigh­bour­hood.

Has­nah, 44, is from Petobo, a vil­lage on the south­ern out­skirts of the city of Palu, where last Fri­day's 7.5 mag­ni­tude earth­quake trig­gered a phe­nom­e­non called soil liq­ue­fac­tion, which turned the ground into a churn­ing sea of mud.

"More than half of my fam­ily are gone," Has­nah told Reuters as she sobbed."Ican’teven­coun­thow­many. Two of my chil­dren are gone, my cousins, my sis­ter, my brother-in-law and their chil­dren, all gone." The of­fi­cial death toll from the quake and tsunami it trig­gered stands at 1 558, but it will cer­tainly rise as more bod­ies are re­cov­ered in Palu, where most of the dead have been counted.

Fig­ures for more re­mote ar­eas, some still cut off by de­stroyed roads and land­slides, are only trick­ling in, if at



No one knows how many peo­ple were dragged to their deaths in the roil­ing quag­mire in Petobo and nearby ar­eas south of Palu, which were par­tic­u­larly hard hit by liq­ue­fac­tion.

The na­tional dis­as­ter agency says 1 700 homes in one neigh­bour­hood alone were swal­lowed up and hun­dreds of peo­ple killed.

"I saw our homes be­ing sucked into the earth. The earth was like a blender, blend­ing ev­ery­thing in its way,” said Has­nah, who like many In­done­sians goes by only one name. I’m lucky to be alive but I feel like I don’t want to be." Has­nah said she has suf­fi­cient food and wa­ter for now, but she's fu­ri­ous that a search and res­cue op­er­a­tion in her area only be­gan on Thurs­day. "I’m so dis­ap­pointed. They said they would­come­with­the­heavy­ma­chines but they didn’t. They lied." Sick of wait­ing for help, vil­lagers them­selves have been search­ing, Has­nah said. "We’ve mark the pos­si­ble bod­ies with sticks. You can see a foot stick­ing out, but there's no one here to dig them out." The first signs of re­cov­ery are ev­i­dent in Palu. Elec­tric­ity has been re­stored and some shops and banks have re­opened and aid and fuel are ar­riv­ing. Doc­tors have been flock­ing to help from other parts of In­done­sia. The Budi Agung Hos­pi­tal has a ca­pac­ity of 134 beds with about 20 more set up in a tent out­side. They are­all­full.Doc­tors­said­many­pa­tients have been at high risk of in­fec­tion be­cause they were buried in mud.


SEARCH­ING: Des­per­ate In­done­sians search for their loved ones af­ter the earth­quake dis­as­ter.

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