Indonesia Quake Tsunami Death Toll Tops 1700
Hundreds of bodies are still believed to be buried in the deep mud after the twin disasters hit Indonesia on September 28.
Indonesia’s disaster agency claims the death toll caused by the recent earthquake and tsunami in the Sulawesi island has gone up to 1,763, with more than 5,000 people feared to still be missing.
A spokesperson for Indonesia’s disaster agency Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said most of the dead were in the city of Palu, and warned many more people could be buried in the rubble the tremor and tsunami left in their wake. More than 3,000 homes were damaged or sucked into deep mud in the Palu Petobo and Balaroa neighborhoods.
“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,” he said at a news briefing in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital.
Efforts to retrieve decomposed bodies in the deep, soft mud are getting harder Nugroho said. More than 8,000 injured or vulnerable residents have been flown or shipped out of Palu, while others could have just left by land, he said.
Officially, Nugroho said only 265 people are confirmed missing and 152 others still buried under the mud and rubble, nine days after the magnitude 7.5 earthquake and devastating tsunami hit Palu and its neighboring areas.
Search operations are set to end by Thursday, nearly two weeks after the disaster, government officials say. Those who are not found will be declared missing and considered dead, Nugroho said.