Published: Sun, October 07, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Indonesia's quake, tsunami reaches 1,571, search mission extended

Indonesia's quake, tsunami reaches 1,571, search mission extended

As the sun slipped behind the mountains and a gentle breeze blew onshore, hundreds of people gathered on an Indonesian beach Friday to chant a Muslim prayer - and remember those they lost - one week after a massive quake and tsunami ravaged the area, killing more than 1,500 people.

The official death toll from the quake and tsunami it triggered stands at 1,558, but is expected to rise as more bodies are recovered in Palu, where most of the dead have been counted.

The national disaster agency says 1,700 homes in one neighbourhood alone were swallowed up and hundreds of people killed.

Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has arrived in a hard-hit city to see damage and recovery from the natural disaster and tsunami that struck a central island last week. He called on Tuesday for reinforcements in the search for survivors, saying everyone had to be found.

National police spokesman Brigadier General Dedi Prasetyo said security will be ramped up to ensure law and order after 92 people were arrested for looting goods such as motor oil, tyres and farming equipment. "There's no way we can get treatment here".

"In the long run, the amount of money that would have been spent on prevention is just a drop in a bucket compared to what the response is going to cost", she said.

The rescuers, using sniffer dogs and scanners, had detected what they believed was a person under mounds of rubble the previous evening but when they resumed the hunt early Friday, any signs of life had disappeared.

"Today we have no signal".

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Haq told reporters at United Nations headquarters in NY that water is the main issue because most of the water supply infrastructure has been damaged.

At least 600,000 children have been affected by the quake, Save the Children said, with many sleeping on the streets among ruins.

"Things are improving", Azhari Samad, a 56-year-old insurance salesman, told AFP at a mosque in Palu.

Teams from Indonesia's communications ministry and disaster agency have taken to Twitter and other social media to debunk fake claims in recent days. In all, about 20 countries have offered help. About half of those deaths occurred in Indonesia. "Indonesians have a big heart".

Sulawesi is also home to a large Christian minority.

The Indonesian government initially refused to accept worldwide help, insisting its own military could handle the response, but as the scale of the disaster became clear President Joko Widodo reluctantly agreed to allow in foreign aid groups and governments.

The Indonesian military was bringing in hundreds more troops to help with search and rescue efforts and keep order among survivors who have grown desperate six days after their lives were thrown into chaos.

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