JAKARTA: The confirmed death toll from an earthquake and tsunami on Indonesia’s Sulawesi island has risen to 1,234, from 844, the national disaster mitigation agency said on Tuesday.
A 7.5 magnitude earthquake on Friday triggered tsunami waves as high as six metres, which swept ashore at the small city of Palu, on the west coast of Sulawesi. Rescuers have yet to reach many affected areas leading to fears the death toll could rise again.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo had earlier ordered more rescuers to hunt for victims, saying that everyone had to be found, as the scale of destruction became clearer.
“The are some main priorities that we must tackle and the first is to evacuate, find and save victims who’ve not yet been found,” Widodo told a government meeting to coordinate disaster recovery efforts.
He said he had ordered the national search and rescue agency to send more police and soldiers into the affected districts, some cut off since Friday’s 7.5 magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami waves destroyed roads, triggered landslides and downed bridges.
Among those killed in the area were 34 children at a Christian bible study camp, a Red Cross official said. More than 50 of the dead were taken to a mass grave on the outskirts of Palu on Tuesday, while rescuers held out hope they could still save lives.
Before-and-after satellite pictures show a largely built-up neighbourhood just south of Palu’s airport seemingly wiped clean of all signs of life by liquefaction.
Power has yet to be restored in the area and access by land to outlying villages has been disrupted by broken roads, landslides and downed bridges. Nearly 60,000 people have been displaced and are in need of
emergency help, while thousands have been streaming out of
Indonesia has said it would accept offers of international aid, having shunned outside help earlier this year when an earthquake struck the island of Lombok.