Published: Wed, October 03, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Indonesia natural disaster: Mount Soputan erupts on tsunami hit Indonesian island

Indonesia natural disaster: Mount Soputan erupts on tsunami hit Indonesian island

Food, water, fuel and medicine had yet to reach the hardest-hit areas outside Palu, the largest city heavily damaged in Friday's disaster.

"If necessary, a larger medical contingent, also with specialised equipment, will follow a day or two later, dependent on the challenges presented by the 7.5 quake and resultant tsunami on the island of Sulawesi that struck on Friday, September 28", he said.

Indonesian Red Cross officials have told the BBC that 34 Indonesian students whose bodies were found under a church buried by a mudslide were among those killed.

The National Agency for Disaster Countermeasure (BNPB), still dealing with the deadly destructive consequences of nature's wrath last week, has confirmed that so far "there have been no reports of the impact of the Soputan eruption".

The Mount Soputan volcano in Indonesia erupted on Wednesday, throwing ash as high as 4,000 meters into the sky, days after an natural disaster and tsunami killed more than 1,400 people on the same island.

Palu residents crowded around daisy-chained power strips at the few buildings with electricity, or queued for water, cash or gasoline being brought in via armed police convoy. A powerful quake on the island of Lombok killed 505 people in August, and two moderate quakes near an eastern island yesterday reportedly damaged a bridge.

Humanitarian agencies had been in communication with the government and were ready to help, he said. There are many people here. "But much of the aid does seem to be sitting at the airport and not getting out fast enough to the areas that need it most", he said. People carried away corrugated iron, wood, pipes and other materials, hoping to build shelters or sell them for cash.

Athit Perawongmetha / Reuters Soldiers unload relief supplies from a military aircraft at Mutiara Sis Al Jufri Airport in Palu.

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Nearly 200,000 people need urgent help, the UN's humanitarian office said, among them tens of thousands of children, with an estimated 66,000 homes destroyed or damaged by the quake-tsunami.

As if things couldn't get worse, Mount Soputan erupted on Sulawesi island, the site of the earthquake's epicenter.

"In the area to the south, because there hasn't been an evacuation we don't know if there are bodies".

Authorities ordered people out of a 4-km radius of the peak of the Mount Soputan in North Sulawesi province, citing threat of lava and simmering clouds from the eruption.

Australia announced it will send 50 medical professionals as part of a $3.6m aid package.

As survivors pick through the shattered remains of their neighbourhoods, the death toll continues to rise. Little of that, however, has reached the disaster zone, and increasingly desperate residents grabbed food and fuel from damaged stores and begged for help. The United States and China are among other countries that have offered assistance.

Indonesia, an archipelago of more than 250 million people, sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" and is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Nugroho said aircraft, tents, water treatment facilities and generators were the main needs for survivors including more than 70,000 displaced people.

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