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Indonesian earthquake: death toll could surge over 3,000

Indonesian earthquake: death toll could surge over 3,000

Posted October. 02, 2018 08:01,   

Updated October. 02, 2018 08:01


The local news media of Indonesia reported that the 7.5-magnitude earthquake and the following tsunami that jolted the island of Sulawesi on Friday may have taken the lives of thousands of people. The official death toll announced by the Indonesian authorities on Monday was 844, but it is feared that the figure may soar as many are still buried under the mudflow.

The Jakarta Post, an English daily in Indonesia, reported Monday that many houses were washed away by mudflows, which had been caused by soil liquefaction, potentially costing the lives of some 2,000 residents. If the speculation is true, the total number of victims will surpass 3,000. The newspaper said that massive liquefaction occurred in areas 10 kilometers south from the shores of Palu, the capital city of the island engulfed by the tsunami, causing the death of thousands of residents and tourists.

Sutopo Purwo Nogroho, a spokesperson at the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, said a swath of areas were affected by soil liquefaction, causing the buildings to crumble down.

The rescue operation began relatively earlier in Palu, but the work is not making enough progress owing to lack of rescue equipment. The New York Times reported that with not enough equipment, the rescue workers were removing the debris with their hands to rescue people. Mass graves were made in Palu to bury 300 bodies as a temporary measure. The whereabouts of a Korean tourist, who seems to have been affected by the earthquake while staying in a hotel in Palu, still remain unclear.

The Indonesian government has decided to spend 560 billion rupiahs (42 billion Korean won) as emergency disaster funds, and President Joko Widodo on Monday appealed international aid for relief and rehabilitation efforts.

Gi-Jae Han record@donga.com