I International

Death toll rises to 2,000 after Double-Disaster in Indonesia

The death toll in the city of Palu in Indonesian which has been hit by a double-disaster has risen to more than 2,000, with thousands of people still missing. Teams have been digging through debris and mud – looking for bodies and possible survivors – but the search is about to end on Thursday this week.

Some regions of Petobo and Balaroa are particularly stricken: More than 3,000 homes are damaged or sucked into deep mud after the earthquake of magnitude 7.5 turned soil into landslides on September 28, 2018.

Spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said on Sunday at a news briefing in Jakarta: “Based on reports from village chiefs in Balaroa and Petobo, some 5,000 people have not been found. Our workers on the ground are trying to confirm this…". The unaccounted people will be declared missing or considered dead, he added.

Children, who have been particularly traumatised by the disaster, returned to damaged schools on Monday to help clean up corridos and record missing pupils. Across Palau, nine schools were destroyed, 22 teachers were killed, and 14 were missing. At one middle school, fewer than 50 of its 697 students showed up.

"Classes haven't started. We're only collecting data to find out how many students are safe," said school principal Abdul Rashid. "I'm still waiting for the Ministry of Education to give us instructions on when to begin classes. For now, I don't think we're ready. Many children are traumatised and frightened."

Problematically, many children remain separated from their families and many cry for their missing parents who have been swept away by the tsunami or covered by mudslides. At least 600,000 children had been affected by the quake. According to “Save the Children” many children are sleeping on the streets among the ruins.

Yet, in some areas, life returns to normal. Food and water needs have been met, and local governments have almost begun functioning as usual as possible.

From abroad, the USA has sent disaster experts to the area and promised that it would send 2,210 rolls of heavy-duty plastic sheeting from its emergency warehouses in Dubai and Malaysia. However, the Indonesian government has been relatively reluctant to accept foreign helped and stated that it could handle the situation on its own.

Palu is the capital city of Sulawesi, one of Indonesia’s larger islands. More than 250 million people live on the archipelago Sulawesi and earthquakes and tsunamis are a daily routine on the island. Yet, a tragedy like this has not been seen before.

Indonesia was shaken by an earthquake just a month before: The famous Indonesian resort island of Lombok, close to Bali, was struck by several powerful earthquakes – killing at least 80 people.

Also, linked to the double-disaster, the volcano Mount Soputan erupted on the same island, and authorities warned about volcanic ash in the air.

In December 2004, a magnitude-9.1 earthquake off Sumatra set off a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in 13 countries, including more than 120,000 in Indonesia.

Indonesia, which spans the Pacific’s “Ring of Fire,” is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The national disaster agency says that almost 150 million people in Indonesians live with the risk of experiencing earthquakes and around 4 million people face danger from tsunamis.

 

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