At mass grave above Indonesian city, many questions linger

Clay Curtis
October 9, 2018

Indonesian emergency services have been burying people as they are found after the disaster, which killed more than 1550 people in and around the port city of Palu on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.

Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho says 265 people are reportedly missing, though more may be buried under deep mud and the rubble of homes and buildings that have collapsed.

An evacuee and his son stand near his tent after Friday prayers outside a damaged mosque caused by the massive quake and tsunami in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia Oct. 5, 2018.

A team of French rescue experts began hunting through a huge expanse of debris on the outskirts of the Indonesian city of Palu on Saturday, looking for hands, feet or any body parts of natural disaster victims sticking out of the mud.

Min Kapala, a 49-year-old teacher, said she came to the city of more than 25 churches from an outlying area because her usual house of worship was destroyed and liquefaction moved a different piece of ground to its location.

He said on local television that survivors in the outlying villages in Petobo, Balaroa and Jono Oge could be relocated and monuments be built in the areas, which now look like wastelands, to remember the victims interred there.

SEARCH teams in Indonesia have pulled more bodies from neighbourhoods in the natural disaster and tsunami-stricken city of Palu as further global aid arrived and humanitarian workers fanned out.

The dead were still being recovered more than a week after the double disaster.

National police spokesman Brigadier General Dedi Prasetyo said security will be ramped up to ensure law and order after 92 people were arrested for looting goods such as motor oil, tyres and farming equipment.

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Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi says military transport aircraft from India and Singapore have arrived to help in relief efforts in central Sulawesi, which was hit by a powerful natural disaster and tsunami.

Doctors said many patients have been at high risk of infection because they were buried in mud.

The official death toll from the September 28 disaster rose to 1,763.

The aid is part of a $3.6 million relief commitment, including more than 50 medical professionals, that Australia made on Wednesday.

Two of his soldiers emerge from the ditch with the body bag sagging in the middle but looking too light to be a corpse - they say they found the heads of two adults and one child. Traumatised survivors are desperate for any help.

The New Zealand Defence Force has evacuated 120 survivors from earthquake-ravaged Palu in Indonesia.

Sergeant Syafaruddin, from an army unit in Makassar south of Palu, asks for a body bag to be brought across to a spot near where the remnants of an Islamic school now stands.

Military officials said Palu's airport is expected to reopen for civilian traffic later on Thursday.

Indonesia has the world's biggest Muslim population but also pockets of Christians, including on Sulawesi, and other religions.

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