Published: Mon, October 08, 2018
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

Lights back On In Indonesian Quake City, But Fate Of Thousands Unknown

Lights back On In Indonesian Quake City, But Fate Of Thousands Unknown

In Palu, most affected by the quake, military and disaster management agency's trucks were distributing relief goods along the roads, while the Red Cross distributed blankets and mattresses that were brought to the area by sea, the organisation said.

By Thursday, the official death toll stood at 1,424, but it will certainly rise as bodies were still being recovered in Palu, where most of the dead have been counted.

The Indonesia-based ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance said that more body bags were "urgently" needed as fears grow that decomposing corpses could provide a breeding ground for deadly diseases.

Regarding foreign relief aid offers, the spokesman said out of a total of 26 offers by different countries, 17 were approved by the Indonesian government as they meet the emergency relief needs.

With power returning to some parts of Palu late Tuesday and phone networks back up and running, there were some signs of things getting back to normal.

Australia will send more than 50 medical professionals to Indonesia to help with the aftermath of a devastating natural disaster and tsunami as part of a 5 million Australian dollar ($3.6 million) aid package.

Engineer Charles Marlan, waiting with fellow crewmen on board the marooned ship for its owners to decide what to do, said he was thankful his ship had not killed anyone on land, as far as they knew.

"The Philippines will do its part, no matter how modest, to help ensure that the challenges Indonesia now faces, will be overcome", the official said.

United Nations deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said Tuesday that United Nations and relief agencies are on the ground or en route.

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Supply of gasoline was gradually improving as the government ordered state-run oil and gas firm Pertamina to mobilize its gasoline stocks stored in provinces around Sulawesi to the tsunami-affected Palu. But since 2012, the devices have not been functioning, and many of them were vandalized or stolen, said the spokesman.

Prasetyo noted that the president has encouraged economic activities to restart but that businesses can't do that without security.

An aerial view of the destruction caused by an quake in the Petabo neighbourhood in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, Oct. 4, 2018.

But for most, daily life has changed beyond all recognition.

Among those leaving are a group of students attending an Islamic competition in the Sumatran city of Medan.

"He was still alive then, but he died because the evacuation was so slow", said Bambang, who like many Indonesians uses one name. The death toll was expected to increase, but officials said rescue crews had reached all affected areas.

Residents whose homes have been destroyed spend hours often futilely trying to secure necessities such as fuel for generators, seven days on from the disasters.

Eastern Indonesia is vulnerable to graver risks of quakes and tsunamis as it lies on an area where three plates of Indo-Australia, Eurasia and Pacific meet, according to Sutopo.

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