1,200 convicts escape Indonesian prisons in quake-tsunami zone

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Indonesia tsunami death toll rises as shaken survivors bury their dead and search for food | Daily Star

The Indonesian government on Tuesday said the death toll from a devastating quake-tsunami on the island of Sulawesi had risen to 1,234 people, up from the previous count of 844.

But there was a need for heavy equipment to reach possible survivors buried in collapsed buildings, including an eight-story hotel in Palu where voices had been heard in the rubble.

Rescuers continue to search through rubble in a bid to find any trapped survivors. She said she was finally expecting to board a plane on Tuesday, and she was "absolutely delighted and thankful to God" for it.

Video shows one woman at the airport crying out.

"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.

Nugroho said more aid was being distributed, but "we still need more time to take care of all the problems".

Colonel Muhammad Thohir of the Indonesian Army said that authorities need to send aid via helicopter in areas like Donggala, one of the towns most affected by the tsunami, as well as other districts which were not accessible to the rescuers. The regencies of Donggala, Sigi and Parigi Moutong-with a combined population of 1.2 million-had yet to be fully assessed. Almost 50,000 people have been displaced from their homes in Palu alone, and hospitals were overwhelmed, according to reports.

Dozens of people were reported to be trapped in the rubble of several hotels and a mall in the city of Palu, which was hit by waves as high as six meters (20 feet) following the 7.5 magnitude natural disaster on Friday.

Neighbors including Australia, Thailand and China offered help and Pope Francis, speaking to thousands in St. Peter's Square, said he was praying for the victims.

The 7.5-magnitude quake struck Friday (Sept 28), sparking a tsunami that ripped apart Palu's coastline.

Novry Wullur, an officer from Indonesia's search and rescue agency, said Nurul Istiharah, 15, managed to survive after being trapped inside her house after it collapsed.

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Three French nationals and a South Korean, who may have been staying at a flattened hotel, had not yet been accounted for, it added.

"The soil in Balaroa was actually moving up and down, with houses rising up two meters and roads going down five meters down since they were built near the Palu-Koro fault and the quake triggered liquefaction", Nugroho said.

Indonesia, which sits on the seismically active Pacific Ring of Fire, is all too familiar with deadly earthquakes and tsunamis.

In August the island of Lombok was hit with a powerful quake, killing 505 people and leaving thousands homeless.

Indonesia's Metro TV broadcast aerial footage from the southern suburb of Petobo, where the devastation appeared extensive.

Residents walk past destroyed buildings in the Perumnas Balaroa village in Palu on October 2. A heavily damaged mosque was half submerged and a shopping mall was reduced to a crumpled hulk.

The city is built around a narrow bay that magnified the force of the tsunami as the waves swept into the tight inlet. "Our funding will assist the most vulnerable and help provide essential supplies, such as food, shelter, water and sanitation and medical supplies", Christos Stylianides, EU commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management, said in the statement.

"The ground rose up like a spine and suddenly fell", resident Nur Indah said, according to USA Today.

"In the evening, some of them turned on their cell phones just to give a sign that they were there".

With hundreds injured, earthquake-damaged hospitals were overwhelmed.

The vast archipelago is home to 260 million people on more than 17,000 islands that stretch a distance similar to that between NY and London. Roads and infrastructure are poor in many areas, making access hard in the best of conditions.

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