Indonesia tsunami: Search for survivors ends as death toll reaches 1500

Indonesia tsunami: Search for survivors ends as death toll reaches 1500

Relief and rescue operations continue in Indonesia after a massive quake and tsunami, as time runs out to find survivors one week after the dual disasters struck Sulawesi island.

The death toll from Friday's 7.5 magnitude quake that spawned a tsunami has risen to 1,558, with scores more believed buried in deep mud and under debris of collapsed buildings and homes.

An quake with a 7.5 magnitude struck Sulawesi on Friday, 28 September; almost 30 minutes later, waves six metres high hit the town of Pula as a tsunami raged through.

"Twelve people in this area haven't yet been found", Mohammad Thahir Talib told AFP.

The aftermath of the September 29 natural disaster after it hit Petobo neighbourhood in Palu, Indonesia, October 5, 2018.

The disaster reduced buildings in the seaside city of Palu to rubble but, with transport links badly affected, aid has been slow to arrive and looting has broken out.

"It's hard to imagine a more frightening situation for a child", said Zubedy Koteng, the group's child protection adviser, who is in the city.

Landing slots at Palu airport are snapped up by the Indonesian military, although it was expected to be open to commercial flights from 7:59am today. The US had provided initial funding, deployed government disaster experts and is working to determine what other help can be given, the US state department said earlier this week.

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Van Deinse said she had been with an IFRC team that sought to bring supplies to the small village of Petobo, near Palu - only to discover that, for all intents and purposes, the village no longer even existed.

The city, 1,500 km (930 miles) northeast of Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, has teetered close to chaos this week, with outbreaks of looting, but a recovery was evident as some shops and banks reopened and a major mobile phone network was back in operation. Desperate search efforts for survivors continued on Wednesday. The United Nations has said some 200,000 people, including tens of thousands of children, are in need of help.

More than 50 Australian medical professionals will provide emergency health support, as the government talks to Indonesia about what else might be needed.

Global aid is beginning to arrive, including supplies from Britain and Australia, after the government overcame a traditional reluctance to accept help from overseas. The work to retrieve bodies has been hampered by lack of heavy equipment to dig them out.

Sanitation is also a growing problem.

"We've confirmed that the mayor is still alive and healthy", Setu said.

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