Indonesia natural disaster: death toll surges, search for survivors continues


Powerful and shallow under-earth quakes of 6.0, 7.4 and 6.1 magnitude followed by a tsunami devastated the province of Central Sulawesi with the hardest-hit area in Palu, the provincial capital and Donggala district. About 12 people have been recovered from the ruins, with one more body on Tuesday.

Three of the victims were recovered alive.

The bodies of more than 30 children who were attending a Christian Bible camp on a northern Indonesian island were discovered Monday amid wreckage brought to the region by Friday's magnitude 7.5 quake and ensuing tsunami, a Red Cross spokesperson told ABC News.

He said Indonesian President Joko Widodo visited the area and made an early assessment of the challenges ahead, the biggest being the resettlement of the thousands of people who lost both their homes and their livelihoods. The death toll of the disaster is expected to reach 2,000 as rescue operations continue.

Many of Ida Rafiqah's family members including her mother live on the island of Sulawesi
Many of Ida Rafiqah's family members including her mother live on the island of Sulawesi

The magnitude 7.5 natural disaster struck at dusk on Friday and generated a tsunami said to have been as high as almost 20ft in places.

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for Indonesia's National Disaster Mitigation Agency, told the BBC that the tsunami detector buoys - 21 floating devices connected to deep-sea sensors - weren't working.

There are fears that some survivors may still be trapped under the rubble of that and other buildings.

"This was a terrifying double disaster", Jan Gelfand, an official in Jakarta for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, told The Guardian.

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"On the first and second day clearly no shops were open". That means a bottleneck for relief supplies in coming days.

However Sukmanto said that people grabbing food would still be tolerated.

President Widodo authorised global aid on Monday and Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed his government has donated $360,000 with plans to provide a second round of aid.

Widodo also agreed to accept global help for disaster response and relief, officials said.

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Modi offered condolences on the loss of lives in the recent quake and tsunami that hit the Sulawesi region of Indonesia, the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the initial funds were given to the Indonesian Red Cross for the most obvious emergency aid needs, such as tarpaulins.

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