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Rescuers detect possible sign of life under quake-hit hotel

07 October, 2018, 15:46 | Author: Ted Wilson
  • A man holds bottles of body lotion scavenged from an abandoned warehouse in Palu Indonesia

Aid was trickling into areas crippled by the devastating natural disaster and tsunami on Indonesia's Sulawesi island, with residents in one neighborhood clapping, cheering and high-fiving at the arrival of a supply truck.

Officially, today ends the search for survivors, it is now a recovery operation though the major focus is on getting basic supplies to the many thousands in need and getting medical treatment for the injured and sick.

The death toll from the quake and tsunami that hit the Indonesian province of Celebes a week ago reached 1,571 on Friday.

After days of delays, global aid is slowly making its way to the disaster zone, where the United Nations says nearly 200,000 people need humanitarian assistance.

A week on from the disaster in Indonesia's Sulawesi some roads remain impassable, detritus is scattered everywhere and terrified people are sleeping outside for fear of further quakes. Hobbled by broken roads and damaged airports, the worldwide aid organization says it is sprinting to scale up its efforts to get clean water to half a million people in need. "But not yet to the most inaccessible places", Sinta said. "In the area to the south, because there hasn't been an evacuation, we don't know if there are bodies".

"There are still large areas of what might be the worst-affected areas that haven't been properly reached, but the teams are pushing, they are doing what they can", Jens Laerke, from the UN's humanitarian office, told reporters late on Tuesday. An quake measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale followed by a tsunami struck Central Sulawesi on Sept 28, with the cities of Palu and Donggala the worst affected.

"I have ordered the police chief and military commander to deploy more personnel in guarding gas stations and business centres so as to make stores reopened, recover the economy in Palu", he said on Tuesday. "Now we have nothing at all....we tried everything and have no response", he said.

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"I am hoping for a miracle", said Bambang, who has been searching daily at the hotel site for his pregnant wife.

In Palu's Balaroa district, badly hit by deadly soil liquefaction, Asril Abdul Hamid, 35, was poking through the wreckage of his home.

Global aid is beginning to arrive, including supplies from Britain and Australia, after the government overcame a traditional reluctance to accept help from overseas.

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

Rescue efforts have been hampered by a lack of heavy machinery, severed transport links and the scale of the damage.

Indonesia and its 18,000 islands are located along the Pacific Ocean's "Ring of Fire" and are frequently struck by natural disaster, volcano and tsunami activity.

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