French rescuers search for bodies in debris of Indonesian quake disaster

French rescuers search for bodies in debris of Indonesian quake disaster

The confirmed death toll from the devastating natural disaster and tsunami on Sulawesi island neared 2,000 on Monday, but thousands more remained unaccounted for and officials have said search teams planned to stop looking for victims later this week.

Officially, Mr Nugroho said only 265 people are confirmed missing and 152 others still buried under mud and rubble, nine days after the magnitude 7.5 quake and powerful tsunami hit Palu and its surrounding areas.

The Indonesian military will deliver the supplies to the quake victims.

"If a victim is not found after 14 days, then they will be declared missing", he said.

No one knows how many people were dragged to their deaths when the ground under Petobo and nearby areas south of Palu, dissolved so violently.

The tens of thousands left homeless by the disaster are scattered across Palu and beyond, many squatting outside their ruined homes or bunkered down in makeshift camps and entirely dependent on handouts to survive.

"[The survivors] can not stay for very long in the displaced persons camps because [the children] must return to school soon", BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said at a press conference on Sunday, adding that emergency schools may be set up using tents.

Aid is continuing to pour into hard-hit areas of Indonesia's Sulawesi island, which has been rattled by some 450 aftershocks since an natural disaster and tsunami struck just over a week ago.

Despite that, Allibert said it had been hard to get permits for Sulawesi.

The official death toll from last week's quake and the tsunami it triggered stands at 1,571, but it will certainly rise.

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The Red Cross estimates that more than 1.6 million people have been affected.

He provided the updated figure Sunday at a news conference in Jakarta.

A week after a major natural disaster brought devastation to Indonesia's Sulawesi island, Ichsan Hidayat told how the bodies of his sister and her 43-day-old daughter were found under a sea of mud and debris, the mother clutching her baby to her chest.

Indonesian police say 92 people have been arrested for looting goods in areas devastated by an natural disaster and tsunami in Central Sulawesi province.

Michael Lesmeister, director of Germany's ISAR-Germany (International Search and Rescue) group, said landing permits for his staff and cargo had come through and, after a three-day wait, they were set to install a water-purification system in Palu.

Aid has been slow to reach survivors, and desperate villagers have stormed into shops to grab food supplies.

Officials reiterated that the search is expected to end on Thursday.

The neighbourhood of Petobo, in the south of the city of Palu, where his sister, Husnul Hidayat, lived with her daughter, Aisah, was wiped out.

Wiranto, who uses one name, said heavy equipment cannot operate in such areas because they could potentially sink in the soft mud. Several other nations have also sent planeloads of aid.

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