Indonesia yesterday extended for a day the search for victims of a 7.5 magnitude quake and tsunami on Sulawesi island at the request of relatives of the many still missing, the national disaster mitigation agency said.
Some 10,000 rescuers toiled on what would have been the final day of searching the ruins of the seaside city of Palu, hit on Sept. 28 by the double disaster, as relatives hoped their loved ones could be found and given a proper burial. But a spokesman for the disaster agency told a briefing in Jakarta the search would go on until this evening.The official death toll was raised to 2,073. No one knows how many people have yet to be found in Palu's ruined neighborhoods but it could be as many as 5,000, the disaster agency said.
If any reminder were needed of Indonesia's treacherous tectonics, a magnitude 6 quake struck off Java and Bali islands yesterday morning, killing three people in Java, da
maging buildings and sparking panic.
The annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank are being held this week on Bali and attended by more than 19,000 delegates and other guests, including ministers, central bank heads and some country leaders.
The government has said it needs to call off the search for bodies because of concern about the spread of disease, and begin to focus on the next phase, rebuilding.
Nearly 88,000 people have been displaced and many are living in crude shelters in the hills around Palu. The government is seeking 10,000 tents. Data on the destruction is being compiled and mapping done to help determine where new houses should be built. The danger of tsunami near the coast in the north of the Palu and of soil liquefaction in the south are the major worries. Areas hit by liquefaction will be turned into parks and sports fields and memorials. Rehabilitation and reconstruction will take until 2021, the government says.Sulawesi is one of Indonesia's five main islands. The archipelago is often rattled by earthquakes and occasional tsunami. In 2004, a quake off the north Indonesia island of Sumatra 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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