In­done­sian city’s re­cov­ery to take 2 years, search nears end

Manila Bulletin - - World News -

PALU, In­done­sia (AP) — The re­build­ing of an In­done­sian city shat­tered by an earth­quake and tsunami will take two years, a dis­as­ter of­fi­cial said Thurs­day, as the search for vic­tims buried in oblit­er­ated neigh­bor­hoods neared its end.

The na­tional dis­as­ter agency’s spokesman, Su­topo Purwo Nu­groho, told a news con­fer­ence that the of­fi­cial search and res­cue ef­fort was ex­tended by a day and would end Fri­day.

“Be­cause of the de­mands of the res­i­dents to lengthen the search for vic­tims, we have ex­tended the search and evac­u­a­tion process for one day,” he said.

Of­fi­cials plan prayers in ar­eas such as Balaroa, Pe­tobo and Jono Oge where the force of the Sept. 28 quake liq­ue­fied soft soil and tore apart neigh­bor­hoods.

As­sess­ments of the cost of re­con­struc­tion are still be­ing car­ried out, Nu­groho said.

“Judg­ing the con­di­tions now, the re­con­struc­tion pe­riod will be from 2019 to 2020,” he said. “We ex­pect full re­cov­ery by 2021.”

The agency said the of­fi­cial death toll had risen to 2,073 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 or­ga­ni­za­tion in In­done­sia said there could be as many as 1,500 chil­dren miss­ing.

Selina Sum­bung, the or­ga­ni­za­tion’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, due to ex­pire on Satur­day, was ex­tended by two weeks to Oct. 26.

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

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