Indonesia earthquake death toll rises to 1,763 and more than 5,000 feared missing

Disaster agency warns fatalities likely to increase further as extent of destruction in rural areas becomes clear

Drone footage shows devastation following Indonesia tsunami

The death toll from the earthquake and tsunami that struck Indonesia‘s Sulawesi island has increased to 1,763 – with more than 5,000 feared missing, officials have announced.

Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said authorities were trying to confirm the number still missing in several villages obliterated when the quake caused loose soil to liquefy, sucking houses into deep mud and burying occupants.

The number of fatalities is likely to increase once the level of damage has been assessed in rural areas, the agency said.

Officials also said they will stop searching for the bodies of victims among the ruins of buildings.

“Evacuation stops on 11 October,” Mr Nugroho told a news briefing in Jakarta on Sunday, using an Indonesian word that applies to the search and retrieval of both living and dead people.

“Victims who have not been found are declared missing,” he added.

Some limited searching might still be undertaken but large-scale searches with many personnel and heavy equipment would cease, he said.

The city of Palu and surrounding districts in Central Sulawesi province were struck by the disaster on 28 September, affecting up to a million people.

International aid has finally begun to reach affected areas, more than a week after the 7.5-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami first hit.

The military dropped supplies from helicopters in places and a large Red Cross ship docked at a port in the region.

In the dusty one-road village of Pewunu, excited children shouted “Red Cross, Red Cross” as one of the aid group’s medical teams arrived.

An RAF aircraft carrying 17.5 tonnes of UK aid landed in Indonesia on Saturday – part of a £3m relief package offered by the government to help those affected by the disaster.

Supplies sent to Sulawesi include more than 1,000 shelter kits and almost 300 hygiene kits.

Indonesia has often been reluctant to be seen as relying on outside help to cope with disasters.

The government shunned foreign aid this year when earthquakes struck the island of Lombok, but it has accepted help from abroad for Sulawesi.

Additional reporting by agencies

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in