Mass burial planned for Indonesia quake victims as death toll reaches 832

Indonesia Indonesia tsunami Indonesia earthquake Indonesia death toll world news Indian Express

Indonesia Indonesia tsunami Indonesia earthquake Indonesia death toll world news Indian Express

A lack of heavy lifting equipment is hampering rescuers' attempts to reach people who remain alive in the ruins of collapsed buildings.

President Joko Widodo "authorised us to accept global help for urgent disaster-response" the government's head of investment Tom Lembong said, as dozens of aid agencies and NGOs lined up to provide live-saving assistance and the government struggled to come to terms with the sheer scale of the disaster.

Dozens of people were reported to be trapped in the rubble of several hotels and a mall in the small city of Palu, 1,500 kilometres northeast of Jakarta, with hundreds more feared buried in landslides that engulfed villages.

Yenni Suryani, of Catholic Relief Services, said aid agencies were struggling to get staff into affected areas as the main airport at Palu was damaged, landslides had cut road links and "power is out nearly everywhere".

Reuters news agency reports that police are escorting aid convoys to prevent supplies being stolen.

Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo authorized for the country to accept worldwide help for the disaster, Thomas Lembong, chair of Indonesia's Investment Coordinating Board, tweeted Monday morning.

State energy company Pertamina said it was airlifting 4,000 liters of fuel to the area to help with the rescue efforts, while state logistics agency Bulog said it was preparing to send in hundreds of tons of rice.

A Filipino detained in Palu City is one of 800 people still missing after a tsunami hit the Indonesia island of Sulawesi, the consul general said Monday.

As a result, authorities in the city of Palu fear the death toll will skyrocket in the coming days, compounded by fears over disease outbreaks caused by decomposing bodies.

Just over 100 prisoners at the two facilities in Palu were still in jail, but overstretched guards were struggling to keep them fed.

Three trucks arrived stacked with corpses wrapped in orange, yellow and black bags, an AFP reporter on the scene saw. They were dragged into the grave and motorised diggers poured earth on top.

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As many as 2.4 million people could have felt the quake, it is believed.

Adi told AFP he was hugging his wife by the beach in Palu when the tsunami struck, and has not seen her since.

Authorities have said the final death toll could reach the thousands as rescue teams push into the Donggala region, which was directly hit and is home to 300,000 people. "I was carried about 50 metres".

Local military spokesman Mohammad Thorir said the area adjacent to a public cemetery on a hill can hold as many as 1,000 bodies.

"We'll bury them all as soon as possible".

A few metres from her stretcher bed are rows of bodies in bags. Dr Sasono says they will be buried in mass graves to stop the spread of diseases: "They are starting to smell. We want to wait for relatives to pick them up, but we can't wait any longer".

A mosque damaged following earthquakes and tsunami in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. It is home to 260 million people. There were also no sirens located along the coast.

Videos show people screaming as waves 6m (20ft) high power over the beach - where a festival was being set-up - sweeping up everything in their path.

It was the latest natural disaster to hit Indonesia, which 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.

"I visited him last month, he's in good health but after this incident, we are continuing our effort to search for him, to make sure that he is safe", he told ANC's Dateline Philippines.

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