Volunteers bury more bodies from Indonesia quake

Indonesia Aid

A week after a major natural disaster brought devastation to Indonesia's Sulawesi island, Ichsan Hidayat found his sister and her baby daughter, who were killed when their neighbourhood became a churning sea of mud and debris.

Thousands of others were injured and more than 70,000 people have been moved to shelters and makeshift tents that have sprouted across Palu, the provincial capital that's home to 380,000 people, and its surrounding areas.

After days of delays, global aid is slowly making its way to the disaster zone, where the United Nations says nearly 200,000 people need humanitarian assistance.

An worldwide effort to help is gearing up, after the government overcame a traditional reluctance to take foreign help, according to Reuters.

The Indonesian retailers association said that losses sustained by mini market chain stores operating in Palu and Donggala had reached 450 billion rupiah (about $2.9 million) as of Monday. "But not yet to the most inaccessible places", Sinta said.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency estimated a series of earlier quakes that hit the resort island of Lombok in July and August had caused damages worth 12 trillion rupiah ($790 million) and killed almost 500 people. He said the Palu airport will also be resume operations for passenger planes soon.

Rescue workers are pushing into outlying districts, where residents have said they have been scavenging for coconuts, bananas and cassava.

Major General Tim Gall, Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said the Hercules and its crew would stay and help transport aid supplies and emergency responders to the quake-damaged city of Palu on Sulawesi Island and other affected areas starting today.

Palu residents crowded around daisy- chained power strips at the few buildings with electricity, or queued for water, cash or petrol being brought in via armed police convoy. "I really haven't eaten for three days".

"We've mark the possible bodies with sticks".

The large majority of the deaths were in the city of Palu, home to 350,000 people.

Worldwide aid offers have picked up since Jakarta's belated request for help, with the UN's Central Emergency Response Fund announcing late on Tuesday that it was releasing US$15 million (RM62.11 million) in aid.

The chanting marked the end of a day filled with prayers and more burials as many survivors leaned on their faith to help them overcome grief and confusion.

Yesterday, Australia said it was sending a medical team to the disaster zone and providing an additional US$5 million in aid.

In 2004, a quake off Sumatra island 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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