Indonesian authorities scrambled on Monday to get aid and rescue equipment into quake-hit Sulawesi island and prepared to bury some of the dead, while shaken survivors streamed away from their ruined homes in search of food and shelter.
The confirmed death toll of 844 looked certain to rise as rescuers reached devastated outlying communities hit on Friday by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami waves as high as six meters (20 feet).
Accounts filtering out of remote areas brought news of devastation, including the deaths of 34 children at a Christian study camp.
Dozens of people were reported to be trapped in the rubble of several hotels and a mall in the small city of Palu, 1,500 km (930 miles) northeast of Jakarta, with hundreds more were feared buried in landslides that engulfed villages.
President Joko Widodo told reporters getting those people out was a priority.
“The evacuation is not finished yet, there are many places where the evacuation couldn’t be done because of the absence of heavy equipment, but last night equipment started to arrive,” Widodo said.
“We’ll send as much food supplies as possible today with Hercules planes, directly from Jakarta,” he said, referring to C-130 military transport aircraft.
The disaster agency said later more heavy equipment and personnel were needed to recover bodies.
One woman was recovered alive from ruins overnight in the Palu neighborhood of Balaroa, where houses were swallowed up when the earthquake caused soil liquefaction, the national rescue agency said.
Most of the confirmed deaths were in Palu, a city of about 380,000 people, where authorities were preparing a mass grave to bury the dead as soon as they were identified.
However, nearly three days after the quake, the extent of the disaster was not known with authorities bracing for the toll to climb – perhaps into the thousands – as connections with remote areas up and down the coast are restored.
Of particular concern is Donggala, a region of 300,000 people north of Palu and close to the epicenter of the quake, and two other districts, which had been cut off from communications.
The four districts have a combined population of about 1.4 million.
Aid worker Lian Gogali, who had reached Donggala district by motorcycle, said hundreds of people facing a lack of food and medicine were trying to get out but evacuation teams had yet to arrive and roads were blocked.
“It’s devastating,” she told Reuters by text.
Indonesian Red Cross spokeswoman Aulia Arriani said the situation in another of the affected districts, Sigi, was dire.
“My volunteers found 34 bodies buried under tsunami debris … missing children who had been doing a bible camp,” she said.
Sulawesi is one of the earthquake-prone archipelago nation’s five main islands and sits astride fault lines. Numerous aftershocks have rattled the region.
FUEL AND RICE
Pictures showed expanses of splintered wood, washed-up cars and trees mashed together, with rooftops and roads split asunder. Access to many areas is being hampered by damaged roads, landslides and collapsed bridges.
A Reuters witness said queues at petrol stations on the approaches to Palu stretched for kilometers. Convoys carrying food, water and fuel awaited police escorts to prevent pilfering before heading towards the city while a stream of residents headed out.
The state energy company said it was airlifting in 4,000 liters of fuel, while Indonesia’s logistics agency said it would send hundreds of tonnes of rice.
The government has allocated 560 billion rupiah ($37.58 million) for disaster recovery.
Military aircraft were sent to bring people out of Palu, where crowds of people clutching bags and boxes were waiting at the airport, military official Bambang Sudewo told Metro TV.
It was hoped up to 1,500 people could be taken out every day, with children, women and the injured the priority, he said. Media footage showed chaotic scenes with officers struggling to keep order.
Indonesia, which is on the seismically active Pacific Ring of Fire, 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.
Questions are sure to be asked why warning systems set up after that disaster appear to have failed on Friday, and why more people in coastal areas had not moved to higher ground after a big quake, even in the absence of an official warning.
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, told reporters on Sunday none of Indonesia’s tsunami buoys, one device used to detect waves, had been operating since 2012. He blamed a lack of funds.
The meteorological and geophysics agency BMKG issued a tsunami warning after the quake but lifted it 34 minutes later, drawing criticism it had been too hasty.
However, officials estimated the waves had hit while the warning was in force.
The head of Indonesia’s investment board said Widodo had agreed to accept international help and he would coordinate private sector assistance from around the world.
Time Magazine Names Jamal Khashoggi, Other Journalists As “Person Of The Year”
This year’s time magazine “Person Of The Year” has been bestowed on a group of journalists that includes murdered Saudi writer, Jamal Khashoggi and two Reuters reporters imprisoned by Myanmar’s government. The magazine says it named the group of journalists as “person of the year” because the idea of truth as critical to democracy is under assault.
Also honored is the founder of a Philippines news website that has been vocal in criticizing that country’s authoritarian government. A Maryland, USA, newspaper is also among the honored.
This is the first time in its ninety-five year history that time magazine has honored people in its own profession.
The annual distinction is intended to recognize the person, group or idea that had the greatest influence on world events that year. It has been given to a wide range of influencers, from u.s. Civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. And Queen Elizabeth to Adolf Hitler, the leader of Nazi Germany, who was honored before the start of world war two.
Syrian Government Using Anti-terrorism Law To Seize Properties From Dissidents
Rights groups and some of the affected Syrian people say the government has been using a little-known anti-terrorism law to seize property from dissidents and their families as it takes back control of areas that were held by rebel groups.
Now that Syria’s conflict has stabilized, and president Bashar al-Assad again controls the biggest cities, it is left to be seen how he will handle the areas where the 2011 uprising against him flared.
International attention has focused on policies, such as legislation known as law 10, that could eventually enable the government to dispossess people in the opposition strongholds worst damaged in the war.
But human rights groups say, while law 10 has not yet been put into effect, the separate anti-terrorism law has already been used to seize property, including from people who had no hand in violence.
Theresa May Faces Confidence Vote
British prime minister, Theresa May faces a confidence vote in her leadership by MPs in her own conservative party, after chaos began to roil her European union exit deal.
So much now plagues the deal that has opened up the prospect of a messy no-deal Brexit or a referendum that could reverse Brexit. Britain is due to exit on March the twenty-ninth next year.
Graham Brady, the chairman of the party’s so-called 1922 committee, said the threshold of 15 percent of the parliamentary conservative party seeking a confidence vote had been reached. A vote will be taken at the house of Commons later this evening.
May could lose her position as prime minister if a hundred fifty-eight of her three hundred fifteen MPs vote against her, but a mutiny could also help sustain her through the crisis.
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- Syrian Government Using Anti-terrorism Law To Seize Properties From Dissidents December 12, 2018
- Theresa May Faces Confidence Vote December 12, 2018
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