Indonesia accepts foreign aid as tsunami death toll hovers at 844

Posted October 02, 2018

Indonesian rescue team inspect the damage of Roa-Roa Hotel following a massive quake and tsunami in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018.

Drone footage shows much of a city on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi is flattened.

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesperson for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, told reporters on Sunday none of Indonesia's tsunami buoys, one device used to detect waves, had been operating since 2012.

We are scaling up our response to reach 500,000 people with essential aid supplies like ready-to-eat food, water purification kits, and shelter packs.

These include Australia, the United States, Morocco, South Korea, the European Union, China, Singapore, Turkey, the Philippines, Switzerland, France, the Czech Republic, Norway, Hungary, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Japan and India, among others.

The magnitude 7.5 quake struck around 6pm (10pm NZT) - was centred 78km north of the city of Palu, on the island of Sulawesi, at a depth of just 10km.

Scores of residents shouted: "We're hungry, we need food", as soldiers distributed rations from a truck in one neighbourhood, while elsewhere television showed pictures of people making off with clothes and other items from a wrecked mall.

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Indonesia's Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) is facing heavy scrutiny in the aftermath of the disaster, The Guardian reports.

Widjo Kongko, a tsunami expert with the country's technology agency, also described the patchy early-warning system.

Rescue efforts continue, as people work to dig out the dozens of others thought to be stuck under piles of rubble.

Priority will be given to evacuating survivors and allowing aid workers to bring in food and fresh water, said Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who visited the disaster site on Sunday.

Indonesia's Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Mr Wiranto, who goes by one name, said air transport is the most pressing need.

Damaged roads and telecommunication channels have disrupted the distribution of aid and supplies in some areas. But we could not do anything to help them.

At Poboya - in the hills above the devastated seaside city of Palu - volunteers have begun to fill a vast grave with the dead, with instructions to prepare for 1,300 victims to be laid to rest.

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More than 3,000 people gathered at Palu's airport Monday hoping to catch a ride out on a military plane but most were disappointed.

But there were cases of survivors still being pulled from the rubble in different locations, including a 25-year-old woman found alive Sunday evening in the ruins of the Roa-Roa Hotel, according to the National Search and Rescue Agency, which released photos of her lying on a stretcher covered with a blanket.

"People are afraid", he said.

A massive 2004 quake triggered a tsunami that killed 220,000 throughout the region, including 168,000 in Indonesia.

"When the wave came, I lost her", he said.

The tsunami was bigger than would have been expected from an natural disaster of the size and type that shook the area.

An aerial view of liquefaction, or shifting ground, following an natural disaster in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, October 1, 2018 in this photo taken by Antara Foto.

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