Disease fears as more bodies found in Indonesia disaster

Disease fears as more bodies found in Indonesia disaster

Indonesian rescue workers will stop searching for the bodies of victims of an quake and tsunami on the island of Sulawesi on Thursday, the national disaster mitigation agency said on Sunday.

Officially, Mr Nugroho said only 265 people are confirmed missing and 152 others still buried under mud and rubble, nine days after the magnitude 7.5 natural disaster and powerful tsunami hit Palu and its surrounding areas.

Australia's first delivery of urgent supplies will arrive soon in Indonesia to help up to 10,000 people displaced by the quake and tsunami.

"They said they would come with the heavy machines but they didn't", she said.

The security minister, Wiranto, says efforts to retrieve bodies are problematic in parts of the hard-hit city of Palu, including the Balaroa and Petobo neighborhoods, where the September 28 quake caused loose soil to liquefy, causing hundreds of homes to be sucked into quicksand-like mud and burying possibly hundreds of victims.

"There should be a monument here to make people aware, so that our grandchildren will know this disaster happened in 2018", said Muhlis, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

Over 2,500 schools in Palu, Donggala and Sigi have been damaged in the disaster. In the most badly affected places, however, access is still a significant obstacle, said Paul Dillon, spokesperson for the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) "Part of the problem is that the areas that are closest to the tsunami, where the tsunami hit hardest, are literally buried in mud".

Television footage showed personnel loading boxes of food into trucks that will be delivered to outlying areas, where many evacuees are still complaining that aid has been slow to arrive.

"You have people circling those areas trying to get in but it's literally inaccessible", he said, adding that even standing just 200 metres from the remains of buildings "you can't actually get into those areas because the mud is thigh- or waist-deep".

Indonesia has often been reluctant to be seen as relying on outside help to cope with disasters. He says how many plane loads of aid fly from Darwin will depend on future Indonesian requests for help. Many hundreds of people are now entombed in slowly drying mud churned with heaps of debris and vehicles.

The official death toll has reached 1,424 with thousands more injured and more than 70,000 residents displaced from their homes.

Indonesian police say 92 people have been arrested for looting goods in areas devastated by an quake and tsunami in Central Sulawesi province. "They deserve better", Hidayat told Reuters as he left Friday prayers at a mosque in the centre of Palu, 1,500 km (930 miles) northeast of Indonesia's capital, Jakarta.

An airport damaged by the natural disaster in central Indonesia is expected to re-open to civilian traffic later Thursday. Traumatised survivors are desperate for any help.

The extent of the destruction as the aircraft flew into Palu on Friday afternoon was worse than he anticipated, Natapu said.

Officials reiterated that the search is expected to end on Thursday. Several other nations have also sent planeloads of aid.

"They are people who want to leave Palu temporarily to stay at their relatives houses in their respective cities, because they are still traumatized [by the quake] and struggle to meet their daily needs", he said.