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Tuesday 22 October 2019

Aid rolls into Indonesia disaster city as more victims found

Indonesia’s disaster agency said the death toll had climbed to 1,649.

A tsunami-ravaged area in Palu (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
A tsunami-ravaged area in Palu (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

By Associated Press Reporters

Search teams in Indonesia have pulled more bodies from obliterated neighbourhoods in the earthquake and tsunami-stricken city of Palu as further international aid arrived and humanitarian workers fanned out.

Indonesia’s disaster agency said the death toll had climbed to 1,649, with at least 265 people still missing, although it said that number could be higher.

A Japanese military plane landed at Palu’s airport on Saturday morning, and soldiers unloaded tons of supplies including medicines and small portable generators in boxes emblazoned with the Japanese flag and the words “From the People of Japan”.

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Japanese troops unload relief aid (Tatan Syuflana/AP)

The dead were still being recovered more than a week after the double disaster. Eight victims in black body bags were arranged in a row at the crumpled neighbourhood of Balaroa, destined for a mass grave.

In the dusty one-road village of Pewunu, excited children shouted “Red Cross! Red Cross!” as one of its medical teams arrived and set up a makeshift clinic in a field where evacuees were sleeping under tarpaulins. One villager said they had survived by ransacking shops.

Volunteers laid out a big white tarpaulin on a stage in front of the village office, set a green desk on it, and interviewed people about their needs as dozens milled around.

Doctors performed medical checks on elderly residents who had emerged from tents and climbed the stage’s stairs with canes or others supporting them.

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Temporary shelters in Palu (Aaron Favila/AP)

People living in the camp said two residents had died in collapsing houses in the village. They had clean water and noodles but not much else.

“There were supplies but these were looted. All along the roads towards here, they were looted by outsiders,” said Bahamid Fawzi.

“All this while in this crisis, we don’t have water, we don’t have food. After that we started ransacking the stores and the shops. Not because we’re thieves but because we really needed it,” he said.

“There’s no water, no food, like it or not we had to do it.”

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Toppled homes in Palu (Aaron Favila/AP)

The September 28 earthquake and tsunami swept away buildings along miles of coastline and knocked out power and communications for days.

In a rare move, Indonesia’s government appealed for international help to cope with the tragedy unfolding in remote central Sulawesi.

The United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs said more than £38 million is required to deliver “immediate, life-saving” aid.

PA Media

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