Publicado: Jue, Octubre 11, 2018
Global | Por Milagro Delgado

5000 feared missing as Indonesia quake death toll rises

5000 feared missing as Indonesia quake death toll rises

Petobo, a cluster of villages in Palu, was virtually wiped out by the powerful quake and wall of water that devastated Palu.

The official death toll stands at 1,944, but the country officials believe that when casualties from two of the hardest-hit areas of Palu - Balaroa and Petobo - are determined, that number could nearly triple.

The official death toll rose to 1,948 and bodies are still being recovered.

Officials say as many as 5,000 people were feared buried at Balaroa and Petobo, another decimated community. They are all missing.

Hidayat was not on Sulawesi last on Friday when the 7.5 magnitude natural disaster struck, triggering a phenomenon called soil liquefaction, which turns the ground into a roiling quagmire.

Despite that, some foreign groups say they have faced difficulties getting entry permits to bring in staff and equipment. "We don't want this".

"Evacuation stops on October 11", the national disaster mitigation agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told a news briefing.

Nugroho said the debris would be removed from those places and they would be turned into public spaces like parks and sports venues.

Those not found by Thursday will be presumed dead, a disaster agency spokesman said. The natural disaster ripped apart the roads, hindering access, so helicopters have been dropping aid supplies to more remote areas.

"I am hoping for a miracle", said Bambang, who has been searching daily at the hotel site for his pregnant wife.

"We don't agree with giving up".

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Still, with the first waves in Palu arriving within around four minutes and power and communications knocked out by the quake, text message alerts or sirens would probably not have been enough, even if they were working.

"Classes haven't started. We're only collecting data to find out how many students are safe", he said, adding that the education ministry woud decide when schools open.

"What's the point anyway?" Those left standing were so battered they were "not fit for use", Lakuaci said.

The quake triggered tsunami waves that reached six meters.

More than 82,000 military and civilian personnel, as well as volunteers, are on the ground while Indonesian army choppers are undertaking supply runs to remote areas blocked off by the disaster.

Indonesia is frequently struck by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis because of its location on the "Ring of Fire", an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.

Almost a week after a magnitude 7.5 quake spawned a deadly tsunami on Indonesia's island of Sulawesi, countless people have yet to find their loved ones _ both survivors and the dead.

Indonesia has the world's biggest Muslim population but also pockets of Christians, including on Sulawesi, and other religions.

"I'm here at this particular church because my own church is no more; it's levelled, and on its location there's a corn plant", she said.

The New Zealand Air Force has flown 120 residents out of the earthquake-ravaged Indonesian city of Palu. The number of bodies lying beneath the mound of rubble, metal and mud is unknown.

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