Eight Hundred and Forty-Four Confirmed Dead as Tsunami Devastates Indonesian City of Palu
On Friday morning, a three-meter-high (10 feet) tsunami triggered by a 7.5-magnitude earthquake unleashed devastation on the Indonesian city of Palu. With a population of 350,000, Palu is located on the island of Sulawesi, one of the hardest hit regions of the Indonesian archipelago.
The death toll as of Monday, Oct. 1, is 844 but that number is widely expected to continue rising as a shortage of equipment has severely hampered rescuers’ efforts in reaching those who are still alive in the remnants of collapsed buildings. In fact, dozens are feared to be trapped underneath the rubble of what used to be the Roa-Roa Hotel.
Authorities in Indonesia have already resorted to mass burials for the victims as a means to curb the spread of diseases. Volunteers in Poboya dug a 100-meter-long grave and have begun filling it up with hundreds of bodies - these volunteers have been instructed to prepare to bury up to 1,300 corpses.
“The casualties will keep increasing”, saidSutopo Purwo Nugroho, the spokesman for the national disaster agency. Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla, meanwhile, added that because many regions are currently inaccessible, the final death toll in the north of Sulawesi island could be in the “thousands”.
The situation in Palu is chaotic at best - survivors now face a third night of sleeping outdoors and Nugroho has confirmed that the city will be without electricity for another three days at the very least. Thousands have gathered at the airport in a last-ditch attempt to escape the island. “We have not eaten for three days,” one woman yelled. “We just want to be safe.”
Joko Widodo, President of Indonesia, has vowed to make more supplies available to the people of Palu. “We will send as much food as possible with Hercules aircraft, there are several aircraft carrying food from Jakarta,” he said on Monday. “We also expect fuel supplies to enter Palu.”
Meanwhile, 10 nations have offered their assistance to Indonesia, according to Nugroho. South Korea and the European Union have offered $1 million and $1.7 million respectively, while the Australian government has agreed to cooperate with Indonesia to identify the best means for assistance.