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Indonesia tsunami death toll rises above 1,200

Orient Net - Reuters 2018-10-02 08:43:00

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Indonesian President Joko Widodo ordered more rescuers to be sent in to find victims of a devastating earthquake and tsunami on Tuesday (Oct. 2) as the official death toll rose above 1,200 and looting raised fears of growing lawlessness.

Most of the dead have been from the small city of Palu, 1,500 km (930 miles) northeast of Jakarta, but some remote areas have been cut off since Friday’s 7.5 magnitude quake triggered tsunami waves, leading to fears the toll could soar.

“There are some main priorities that we must tackle and the first is to evacuate, find and save victims who’ve not yet been found,” Widodo told a government meeting to coordinate disaster recovery efforts on the west coast of Sulawesi island.

He said he had ordered the national search and rescue agency to send more police and soldiers into the affected districts, some cut off by destroyed roads, landslides and downed bridges.

The Red Cross said the situation was “nightmarish” and reports from its workers venturing into one cut-off area, Donggala, a region of 300,000 people north of Palu and close to the epicenter, indicated it had been hit “extremely hard”.

Among those killed were 34 children at a Christian bible study camp, a Red Cross official said.

The government has ordered aid supplies to be airlifted in but there’s little sign of help on Palu’s shattered streets and survivors appeared increasingly desperate.

A Reuters news team saw a shop cleared by about 100 people, shouting, scrambling and fighting each other for items including clothes, toiletries, blankets and water.

Indonesia is all too familiar with earthquakes and tsunamis. A quake in 2004 triggered a tsunami across the Indian Ocean that killed 226,000 people in 13 countries, including more than 120,000 in Indonesia.

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