Some services began returning to normal in Indonesia’s quake and tsunami stricken city of Palu on Thursday, but the fate of many thousands of people in outlying districts remained unknown nearly a week after the disaster struck.
The small city of 370,000 people has been the focus of the aid effort launched after last Friday’s 7.5 magnitude earthquake and tsunami on the west coast of Sulawesi island.
International help for survivors has gathered pace, but communities in more remote areas have been cut off by broken roads, landslides and crippled communications, leaving people increasingly desperate for basic needs as aid has only just begun to trickle through.
By Thursday, the official death toll stood at 1,424, but it is widely expected to rise as most of the dead accounted for have been from Palu, while figures for remote areas are trickling in or remain unknown.
“There are so many challenges with this disaster, it’s never been so bad,” said Frida Sinta, an aid volunteer trying to get help out to fellow residents of Palu.
The city, 1,500 km (930 miles) northeast of Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, has teetered close to chaos this week, with outbreaks of looting, but a recovery was evident as some shops and banks reopened and a major mobile phone network was back in operation.
Orderly queues formed at petrol stations after the arrival of fuel shipments and the power came back on, at least in parts of the city.
The improvements are helping with the aid effort.
“We carry whatever we can by car or motorbike within the city wherever we can. But not yet to the most inaccessible places,” Sinta said.
State port operator Pelindo IV said Palu’s port, which was damaged by the quake and tsunami, was open, though a Reuters reporter in the city said she had not seen any shipping activity.
Altogether, the badly affected areas in the disaster zone includes some 1.4 million people.
Rescue workers are pushing into outlying districts, where residents have said they have been scavenging for coconuts, bananas and cassava.
Villagers rushed a Red Cross helicopter that landed near the town of Donggala, northwest of Palu, to distribute bread and other food, a Reuters photographer said.
National disaster mitigation agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told a briefing the main roads to the south, west and east of Palu had been opened but there has been scant information about conditions on the road to the north, along the coast toward the epicenter of the quake, 78 km (50 miles) from Palu.
“There’s no data,” said Abdul Haris of the national search and rescue agency, when asked about the string of small settlements that line the road, which passes some sandy beaches that attract a trickle of tourists.
“Places have been damaged by the tsunami along the coast,” Nugroho said, but he had no details.
International aid is beginning to arrive, including supplies from Britain and Australia, after the government overcame a traditional reluctance to accept help from abroad.
The United Nations announced an allocation of $15 million on Wednesday while the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said it was appealing for 22 million Swiss francs ($22 million).
The United States had provided initial funding and disaster experts and was working to determine what other help could be given, the State Department said.
Indonesian Central Bank Governor Perry Warjiyo played down the impact on Southeast Asia’s biggest economy of the disaster in Sulawesi, and of earlier deadly quakes on the tourist island of Lombok.
“This is really a challenging and difficult time for Indonesia and for all of us, but we are united and we stand strong,” he told a briefing of the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club late on Wednesday.
Straddling the seismically active Pacific Ring of Fire, Indonesia has long been vulnerable to quakes and tsunamis.
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.
But safety measures implemented after that disaster, including tsunami warning systems, failed on Friday.
A network of tsunami-detecting buoys has been out of action since 2012. President Joko Widodo has ordered it be repaired and maintained.
Theresa May Survives Confidence Vote
British Prime Minister Theresa May can rest easy after winning a vote of confidence on Wednesday night in the conservative party by 200 to 117.
After alighting from the vote last night unscathed, she is now immune from a leadership challenge for a year.
But rocky road still lies ahead as she tries to push through a vote in parliament to adopt her Brexit deal with the EU.
After the all important confidence vote on wednesday night, May was in Brussels again thursday morning to finetune the divorce deal she had struck for Britain.
May vowed, after vote results were announced on Wednesday night, that she will deliver the brexit “people voted for.”
She acknowledged the rather high number of her MPs who had voted against her. She promised to listen to, and address, their concerns.
The vote was triggered by 48 of her MPs who are angry at her Brexit policy. They say the deal betrays the demands of the 2016 referendum result.
IATA Forecasts Airlines Will Generate $3b More In 2019
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents most global carriers, has forecast airlines will generate $3 billion more in total profits in 2019. The industry realized $32 billion this year. IATA says although airlines face increased taxes, they will carry more passengers next year that would boost industry profits.
Iata says airlines in North America are performing the best, but Africa remains the weakest region for aviation.
Net profits for airlines across Africa are expected to fall, for the fourth consecutive year next year by three-tenths of a percent.
Losses for carriers across Africa have widened as fuel costs have increased.
UN Urges Immediate Action On Climate Change
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday at the ongoing 24th Conference of Parties (COP24) in Poland that it will “not only be immoral, but suicidal”, should the world body fail to agree on climate change action.
He challenged the more than 100 government leaders gathered in Katowice to find consensus and “finish the job”, noting the roadblocks continuing at the (COP24) climate change conference over how to implement the historic 2015 Paris Agreement.
Since Dec. 2, the conference has brought together thousands of climate action decision-makers, advocates and activists, with one key objective – to adopt global guidelines for the 197 parties of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
The 197 parties of the 2015 Paris Agreement committed to limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees Centigrade – and as close as possible to 1.5 degrees Centigrade – above pre-industrial levels.
As the conference nears its end, the UN chief acknowledged progress in the negotiations but said a lot still remains to be done.
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- EU Rejects Bid To Unfreeze Mubarak’s Assets December 13, 2018
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