The Indonesian island was rocked by a powerful natural disaster, there are victims

Howard TerryOct 14, 2018

The rebuilding of an Indonesian city shattered by an quake and tsunami will take two years, a disaster official said Thursday, as the search for victims buried in obliterated neighbourhoods neared its end. Indonesia's search for victims buried in neighborhoods annihilated by an quake and tsunami is nearing its end nearly two weeks after the double disasters hit the remote city.

In 2004, a big natural disaster off the northern Indonesian island of Sumatra triggered a tsunami across the Indian Ocean, killing 220,000 people in 13 countries, including more than 168,000 in Indonesia.

But authorities fear 5,000 more could be buried beneath the ruined city, where entire villages were swallowed.

Rescuers struggled to retrieve the dead, the grim job compounded as mud hardened and bodies decomposed in the tropical heat.

"The operations of search and rescue for the victims will be completed this Thursday afternoon", said to AFP Bambang Suryo, head of research at Palu.

The government had declared that the worst-hit areas would be sealed off, effectively becoming mass graves.

Zainurrohman, a 21-year-old from the district told AFP.

'What else can we do?

"It is very hard to tell worldwide teams arriving here, when you have already encountered massive costs, massive cargo and then say to global teams that they will be recalled", team leader Ahmed Bham said.

The disaster destroyed more than 65,000 homes and buildings, and displaced more than 70,000 people.

More than 90 volunteers and staff from the Indonesian Red Cross - another branch of the Red Cross charity - were on the ground immediately after the incidents took place.

"I tell my family they have to be strong, not scared, so that I can be strong", said Joko, 41.

A boy injured during the tsunami is carried by his relative at a makeshift hospital in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia.

"USAID is also airlifting heavy-duty plastic sheeting to Indonesia to provide for emergency shelter needs of up to 110,500 people", she said in a statement, referring to the U.S. Agency for International Development.

United Nations secretary general Antonio Guterres will tour the disaster zone with Indonesian vice president Jusuf Kalla on Friday.

Looters ransacked shops in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, as food and water ran dry and convoys bringing life-saving relief were slow to arrive.

Several factors constrain humanitarian access to the affected areas.

Indonesia had initially refused global aid, ensuring that his army could deal with the situation.

The disaster agency, in a notice posted on Twitter, set the rules out for foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs), saying they were not allowed to "go directly to the field" and could only work with "local partners". "We want to help as many as we can", he said. "They don't need them in Indonesia", he said.

The quake did not trigger any tsunami, said Indonesia's Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG).

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