In­done­sia’s search for dis­as­ter dead nears end

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Asean Focus -

IN­DONE­SIA’S search for vic­tims buried in neigh­bour­hoods an­ni­hi­lated by an earth­quake and tsunami is near­ing its end al­most two weeks af­ter the dou­ble dis­as­ters hit the re­mote city of Palu in cen­tral Su­lawesi.

Au­thor­i­ties had said the search and res­cue ef­fort would end Thurs­day with prayers in ar­eas of the city such as Balaroa, Pe­tobo and Jono Oge where the force of the quake liq­ue­fied soft soil and tore apart neigh­bour­hoods.

But na­tional dis­as­ter agency spokesman Su­topo Purwo Nu­groho told a news con­fer­ence it would con­tinue for one more day af­ter re­quests from fam­i­lies of the miss­ing.

He said it will take two years for the re­gion to re­build and re­cover.

The agency said the of­fi­cial death toll had risen to 2073 as of Thurs­day, with most of the fa­tal­i­ties in Palu.

Of­fi­cially, 680 peo­ple are miss­ing but of­fi­cials have ac­knowl­edged the num­ber could be sev­eral thou­sand be­cause hun­dreds of homes were sucked into the earth.

Save the Chil­dren’s af­fil­i­ated or­gan­i­sa­tion in In­done­sia said there could be as many as 1500 chil­dren miss­ing.

Selina Sum­bung, the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s chief, said the end of the search mis­sion is ac­cepted with a “heavy heart.”

“Chil­dren are par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­a­ble in dis­as­ters, and to think that so many will never have the chance to grow up is heart-break­ing,” she said in a state­ment.

Cen­tral Su­lawesi Gov. Longki Djang­gola said the dis­as­ter relief pe­riod, which was to ex­pire on Satur­day, has been ex­tended by two weeks to Oc­to­ber 26.

Fire­fight­ers, soldiers and other per­son­nel searched the rub­ble on Thurs­day in a last push to find vic­tims. They also burned de­bris and ex­ca­va­tors dug into the tan­gled re­mains of build­ings.

Heavy equip­ment hasn’t been able to op­er­ate in neigh­bour­hoods where the earth turned to mud, ham­per­ing the search ef­fort, and many bod­ies have de­com­posed be­yond recog­ni­tion due to the trop­i­cal heat.

Mean­while, an earth­quake col­lapsed homes on In­done­sia’s Java is­land, killing at least three peo­ple, and shook the tourist hotspot of Bali on Thurs­day.

The dis­as­ter agency said the night­time quake was cen­tred at sea, 55 kilo­me­tres north­east of Si­tubondo city, and also felt in Lom­bok. The US Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey said it had a 6.0 mag­ni­tude.

The agency said the worst af­fected area was in Sumenep district, East Java, where three peo­ple died in one vil­lage and sev­eral homes were dam­aged. – As­so­ci­ated Press

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