Indonesia tsunami: Death toll rises sharply as desperation grows

Desperation is growing in the stricken Indonesian city of Palu as residents faced a fifth day with little fo...

Posted: Oct 2, 2018 9:59 PM
Updated: Oct 2, 2018 9:59 PM

Desperation is growing in the stricken Indonesian city of Palu as residents faced a fifth day with little food or clean drinking water and the official death toll mounted in the wake of Friday's devastating earthquake and tsunami.

The number of people killed rose to 1,234 on Tuesday, Indonesia's national disaster agency said, including Monday's grim discovery of 34 bodies, mostly children, in a church recreation hall in Sigi Biromaru south of Palu.

Accidents, disasters and safety

Asia

Continents and regions

Deaths and fatalities

Disaster relief

Indonesia

Natural disasters

Society

Southeast Asia

Tsunamis

Earthquakes

International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement

Non-profit and NGO organizations

Local Red Cross worker Rafiq Anshori told CNN the bodies were discovered during the search for 86 children who were taking part in a Bible camp in the remote location when the earthquake and tsunami struck the island of Sulawesi.

Ashori said volunteers had to carry the bodies down from the church by hand for over an hour before they could reach a place where police could pick them up. The rest of the children from the Bible camp are still missing.

The number of deaths is expected to grow as more bodies are retrieved from the rubble. "So many bodies haven't been recovered yet," Willem Rampangilei, head of Indonesia's National Board for Disaster Management, told reporters.

Desperate wait for help amid looting

The situation for survivors is dire as families scramble to get even the most basic of goods. On Tuesday, hundreds waited in line in the blazing sun, standing in the ruins, in the hopes of obtaining a small amount of fuel.

At the last working gas pump in town, crowds gathered around a single, overworked attendant. He held a large wad of cash almost too big to grip, the product of hours spent pumping fuel into portable cans.

But money is of little use when there is nothing left to buy. All normal services in the city have ceased to operate. Shops have been destroyed or left empty.

Roads to Palu -- a city of about 350,000 people -- remain partially blocked, and aid has trickled in. Indonesian vessels carrying food and water have yet to arrive.

Reports of looting are widespread as survivors search deserted buildings for supplies. CNN witnessed military personnel chasing would-be looters out of an empty grocery store.

National Police spokesman Setyo Wasisto said that 49 people have been arrested for theft following the disaster.

According to officials at the military headquarters in Palu, at least 3,500 officials and volunteers have joined in to help out with the recovery, including 900 police and more than 1,000 military personnel.

The search continues for survivors, with reports of more than 700 houses buried under a mudslide in a nearby town.

An official from the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent described the situation as "nightmarish."

Five days after the first tsunami waves crashed into Palu, bodies remain unburied on the sides of roads. In a public cemetery on the city's outskirts, workers are digging a mass grave the size of a soccer field to bury as many as quickly as possible.

Almost 200 bodies have been placed in the pit, with more being added by the hour. A few identification cards lie on the ground nearby, but workers said not all bodies were being identified before being laid to rest.

'I needed to get the kids out of here'

An estimated 2.4 million people have been affected by the disaster, according to Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the National Board for Disaster Management.

He said Tuesday that 799 people were injured, more than 61,000 have been displaced and 66,000 homes had been destroyed so far.

Desperate to leave the disaster scene and escape the threat of looting, thousands of families, many with children, have lined up at Palu's airport in hopes of getting out.

"People are trying to get stuff from my house so I needed to get the kids out of here. ... They're trying to rob us," one woman told CNN as she waited at the airport Monday.

Meanwhile, international aid organizations and the Indonesian military are trying their hardest to reach those in need.

Vanda Lengkong, regional head of disaster risk management at Plan International, told CNN that she'd seen people begging on the road for food and water in the Donggala area near Palu.

"We were able to see extensive damage (especially on the coastline), with very few buildings ... left standing and electricity poles collapsed," she said.

Lengkong said she had seen children without parents playing close to the ruins in Palu. "It's something that Plan International is trying to identify, the specific needs of boys and girls and how we can fill in the gap," she said.

Pallets are en route to the affected area, with the Red Cross sending seven tons of logistical supplies from Jakarta.

Other countries have begun to announce aid packages. Australia, one of Indonesia's closest neighbors, said it had already provided $500,000 of support immediately through the Indonesian Red Cross.

"Australia has some expertise and has resources in particular areas we can deploy, and we are looking to see how we can best fit the need," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

The United States announced Monday it had released $100,000 in initial disaster assistance, according to a State Department spokesman.

But on the ground, there's little evidence so far of the pledged aid, with shipments expected to take days to arrive.

Second earthquake hits country

On Tuesday morning, there was another reminder of the constant threat of seismic activity in Indonesia when a 6.0-magnitude earthquake shook the island of Sumba in the east.

Video from close to the epicenter showed panicked residents and schoolchildren fleeing from buildings and homes. There have been no reports of injuries, and the tremor did not trigger a tsunami alert.

Indonesia sits between two continental plates on what is known as the Ring of Fire, a band around the basin of the Pacific Ocean that leads to high levels of tectonic and volcanic activity.

Sumba is to the east of the Indonesian island of Lombok, where at least 400 people were killed in August after a series of devastating quakes.

Palu is continuing to experience aftershocks.

Survivors are still avoiding buildings and are sleeping outside, afraid of what will happen if there should be a severe aftershock.

Outside the city's Undata Hospital, patients slept under tarpaulins in the sweltering heat, with some of the injured covered in flies. The hospital's director, Dr. Komang Hadi Sujendra, said power had just been restored Monday.

Plan International's Lengkong said people were "concerned and confused" following the earthquake, and unsure whether they were safe from aftershocks. "(Do) they need to go to the mountains, or can they go home? Is it going to happen again, or can they stay?"

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 34211

Reported Deaths: 2125
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9761576
Lake3573186
Allen160069
Cass15877
St. Joseph126634
Elkhart126228
Hendricks116671
Hamilton115493
Johnson1097108
Madison58659
Porter53428
Bartholomew50834
Clark49741
LaPorte43023
Howard40428
Tippecanoe3933
Delaware38536
Jackson3821
Shelby37122
Hancock33127
Floyd31839
Boone31635
Morgan27824
Vanderburgh2662
Montgomery23817
White2338
Noble22821
Clinton2271
Decatur22431
Grant21022
Dubois1993
Harrison19422
Henry17211
Greene16924
Vigo1688
Dearborn16821
Monroe16712
Warrick16628
Lawrence15924
Miami1401
Putnam1367
Jennings1304
Kosciusko1271
Orange12622
Scott1193
Franklin1108
Ripley1086
Marshall1021
Carroll932
Daviess8516
Steuben832
Wayne785
Fayette777
Newton7710
Wabash772
LaGrange762
Jasper661
Washington521
Clay511
Jay500
Fulton491
Randolph473
Rush462
Pulaski460
Jefferson451
Whitley413
Starke393
DeKalb371
Sullivan351
Owen341
Brown331
Perry320
Wells310
Benton300
Knox280
Huntington272
Tipton251
Blackford252
Crawford240
Fountain212
Switzerland200
Spencer201
Parke170
Adams171
Posey160
Gibson152
Ohio130
Warren121
Martin110
Vermillion100
Union90
Pike60
Unassigned0167

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 118917

Reported Deaths: 5330
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook771193603
Lake8238288
DuPage7620368
Kane6259176
Will5510273
Winnebago220955
McHenry153972
St. Clair112180
Kankakee90045
Kendall77819
Rock Island65124
Champaign6277
Madison57259
Boone44117
DeKalb3994
Sangamon34829
Jackson28210
Randolph2694
Peoria2218
McLean21813
Ogle2033
Stephenson2012
Macon19419
Clinton18617
Union15510
LaSalle15013
Whiteside13912
Iroquois1314
Coles12615
Out of IL1181
Warren1150
Jefferson10116
Grundy982
Knox980
Monroe9511
McDonough8711
Lee811
Unassigned800
Cass730
Tazewell725
Henry690
Williamson661
Pulaski560
Marion500
Jasper457
Macoupin452
Adams441
Perry420
Montgomery391
Vermilion391
Morgan361
Christian354
Livingston342
Jo Daviess320
Douglas270
Fayette203
Ford201
Jersey201
Menard200
Woodford192
Mason180
Washington180
Hancock170
Mercer170
Carroll162
Shelby161
Bureau151
Schuyler130
Bond121
Franklin120
Clark110
Crawford110
Fulton110
Moultrie110
Piatt110
Brown100
Cumberland100
Logan100
Wayne91
Alexander80
Henderson80
Johnson80
Effingham71
Massac70
Saline70
Greene50
Marshall50
De Witt40
Lawrence40
Richland30
Stark30
Clay20
Edwards20
Gallatin20
Hamilton20
Wabash20
White20
Calhoun10
Edgar10
Hardin10
Pike10
Pope10
Putnam10
Terre Haute
Clear
62° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 62°
Robinson
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 65°
Indianapolis
Few Clouds
60° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 60°
Rockville
Clear
60° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 60°
Casey
Clear
62° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 62°
Brazil
Clear
62° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 62°
Marshall
Clear
62° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 62°
A great Sunday on tap!
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events