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Indonesia tsunami: Search for victims to end, though hundreds still missing
09 October 2018, 05:25 | Darnell Patrick
NZDF evacuates 120 quake survivors on Hercules aircraft from Palu
More than 1,500 people died in last week's quake-tsunami, and local officials said Friday that more than a thousand people could still be missing.
Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho says 265 people are reportedly missing, though more may be buried under deep mud and the rubble of homes and buildings that have collapsed.
President Joko Widodo has said all of the victims of the 7.5 magnitude natural disaster and tsunami that struck on September 28 must be found.
A team of French rescue experts began hunting through a huge expanse of debris on the outskirts of the Indonesian city of Palu yesterday, looking for hands, feet or any body parts of natural disaster victims sticking out of the mud.
Min Kapala, a 49-year-old teacher, said she came to the city of more than 25 churches from an outlying area because her usual house of worship was destroyed and liquefaction moved a different piece of ground to its location.
He said: "Based on reports from village chiefs in Balaroa and Petobo, some 5,000 people have not been found".
As the sun slipped behind the mountains and a gentle breeze blew onshore, hundreds of people gathered on an Indonesian beach Friday to chant a Muslim prayer - and remember those they lost - one week after a massive quake and tsunami ravaged the area, killing more than 1,500 people.
Local television reported that rescuers pulled out the bodies of the South Korean and an Indonesian from under the wreckage of the Roa Roa Hotel in the city of Palu, where most of the 1,424 deaths have been. Numerous missing are believed to be dead as rescue efforts enter its second and final week. He said he believes his son, who was praying at the time when the disaster struck, has gone to heaven.
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Indonesia has often been reluctant to be seen as relying on outside help to cope with disasters.
The national disaster agency said Friday that the confirmed death toll rose slightly to 1,571.
The aid is part of a $3.6 million relief commitment, including more than 50 medical professionals, that Australia made on Wednesday.
The government shunned foreign aid this year when earthquakes struck the island of Lombok but it accepted help from overseas for Sulawesi.
A week after a major quake brought devastation to Indonesia's Sulawesi island, Ichsan Hidayat told how the bodies of his sister and her 43-day-old daughter were found under a sea of mud and debris, the mother clutching her baby to her chest.
Aid has been slow to reach survivors, and desperate villagers have stormed into shops to grab food supplies. The military planes are also being used to evacuate injured people and other survivors from Palu, the biggest city in the earthquake-hit region. Several other nations have also sent planeloads of aid.
Drinking water has been identified as one of the most urgent needs in Donggala, one of the worst-affected districts on the island, along with shelter, healthcare and psychosocial support, UN News said.
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