Time Running Out in Search for Survivors of Indonesia's Quake

Minnie Murray
October 8, 2018

The official death toll from last Friday's 7.5 magnitude quake has risen to 1407.

"The Filipino nation extends its most honest sympathies to our Indonesian brothers and sisters affected by the recent natural disaster and tsunami", Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said on Friday.

State port operator Pelindo IV said Palu's port, which was damaged by the quake and tsunami, was open, though a Reuters reporter in the city said she had not seen any shipping activity.

Nugroho said most of the those confirmed dead had been buried.

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 Indonesian military was bringing in hundreds more troops to help with search and rescue efforts and keep order among survivors who have grown desperate six days after their lives were thrown into chaos.

"What is important is we are alive and for that we should be grateful", he said.

Worldwide help in searching for survivors has gathered pace, but communities in more remote areas have been cut off by broken roads, landslides and crippled communications, leaving people increasingly desperate for basic needs as aid has only just begun to trickle through.

"The aircraft is expected to arrive in Indonesia late this afternoon with tarpaulins, tools to build shelter, as well as hygiene and birthing kits", Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a statement.

Sick of waiting for help, villagers themselves have been searching, Hasnah said.

Nugroho said other victims still are buried in the mud and debris and have not yet been recovered.

The twin disasters struck Palu and surrounding districts in Central Sulawesi province on September 28. Ships and more than two dozen military transport planes, including ones from Japan, New Zealand, and India, have arrived in Palu carrying hundreds of tons of food and badly needed supplies and heavy equipment.

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

They are unsure when they'll be able to rebuild and spend hours each day often futilely trying to secure necessities such as fuel for generators.

On Friday, the death toll rose to 1,571, according to the Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management.

Further up the coast in Donggala, which was close to the epicentre of the quake and also suffered substantial damage, about 200 men gathered at a mosque.

Hasnah said she has enough food and water but she's furious that a search and rescue operation in her area only began on Thursday.

The figure included tens of thousands of children, with authorities estimating 66,000 homes destroyed or damaged.

Indonesia has been hit by a number of earthquakes in recent months, with the events that struck the island of Lombok and surrounding area in July and August now thought to have cost nearly $800 million.

The U.N. announced a $15 million allocation to bolster relief efforts.

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