5,000 feared missing as Indonesia quake death toll rises

Indonesia-Sulawesi-Earthquake-Tsunami-Volcano-October 3-2018

NZDF evacuates 120 quake survivors on Hercules aircraft from Palu

The number of people who were missing or believed to be buried under the debris were 683 and 152 respectively, he said.

Villagers rushed a Red Cross helicopter that landed at Sirenja village near the quake's epicentre, about 75 km (45 miles) north of Palu, to drop off supplies.

Balaroa was one of the areas hardest hit by the September 28 magnitude 7.5 quake, which threw homes in the neighborhood tens of meters and left cars upright or perched on eruptions of concrete and asphalt.

Officials had initially predicted some 1,000 people were buried beneath the ruins of Palu.

He said: "Based on reports from village chiefs in Balaroa and Petobo, some 5,000 people have not been found". They are all missing.

Security minister Wiranto, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, said eventually the worst-hit areas would have to be declared mass graves and left untouched.

"If there are bodies in the spaces, we'll extract them".

He provided the updated figure Saturday at a news conference in Jakarta.

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

But there are fears that two of the hardest-hit neighbourhoods in Palu - Petobo and Balaroa - could contain thousands more victims, swallowed up by ground that engulfed whole communities in a process known as liquefaction.

Among them was 39-year-old Rudy Rahman, who said the bodies of his 18- and 16-year-old sons had been found.

"We don't agree with giving up".

"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. Michael Lesmeister, director of Germany's ISAR-Germany (International Search and Rescue) group, said landing permits for his staff and cargo had come through and, after a three-day wait, they were set to install a water-purification system in Palu.

"What's the point anyway?"

More than 1,400 people were killed in last Friday's quake and tsunami.

"I don't want her to feel like her father never tried to find her". With nearly no effort he unearths the body of a long-haired lady buried in mud.

Hopes of finding anyone alive a full eight days since the disaster have all but faded, though Indonesian authorities have not officially called off the search for survivors.

Sulawesi is one of the archipelago nation's five main islands, and like the others, is exposed to frequent earthquakes and tsunami.

In December 2004, a massive 9.1-magnitude quake off the northern Indonesian island of Sumatra triggered a tsunami across the Indian Ocean countries, killing 220,000 people in 13 countries, including more than 168,000 in Indonesia.

Dozens of Christians gathered outside ruined churches on the island of Sulawesi on Sunday for open-air services to give thanks for their survival and to mourn members of their congregation killed in a devastating natural disaster. Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim country.

"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.

An Air Force C-130 Hercules carried about 120 survivors 380 kilometres west, across the Makassar Strait, to the port city of Balikpapan, after dropping off 10.6 tonnes of aid to the city of Palu yesterday.

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