Children in the Indonesian city of Palu began returning to school on Monday to tidy up their classrooms and to help gather data on how many of them will be coming back 10 days after a major earthquake and tsunami hit their city.
The 7.5 magnitude quake on Sept. 28 brought down many buildings in the small city on Sulawesi island, 1,500 km (30 miles) northeast of Jakarta, while tsunami waves smashed into its beachfront.
But the biggest killer was probably soil liquefaction, which happens when a powerful quake turns the ground into a liquid mire and which obliterated several Palu neighborhoods.
The official death toll is 1,763 but bodies are still being recovered. No one knows how many people are missing, especially in the areas hit by liquefaction, but it could be as high as 5,000, the national disaster agency said.
At one state high school, teenagers dressed in gray and white uniforms swept up broken glass in the classrooms. Trophies had fallen from a broken school showcase and the basketball court was cracked.
“It’s sad to see our school like this,” said Dewi Rahmawati, 17, who expects to graduate next year and wants to study economics at university.
The students found out that they had to turn up to school through messages on Facebook and WhatsApp.
School principal Kasiludin said authorities told all teachers to show up for work from Monday to collect information on student numbers.
“We won’t force the students to come back because many are traumatized. But we must start again soon to keep their spirits up and so they don’t fall behind,” he said.
The school had lost at least seven students and one teacher, he said.
At the SMP Negeri 15 Palu middle school, fewer than 50 of its 697 students showed up.
School principal Abdul Rashid said he was aware of four students killed in the quake.
“Classes haven’t started. We’re only collecting data to find out how many students are safe,” he said.
“I’m still waiting for the Ministry of Education to give us instructions on when to begin classes. For now, I don’t think we’re ready. Many children are traumatized and frightened.”
One boy chatting in the school compound with friends said he was disappointed that so few of his class mates had shown up.
“I haven’t heard from so many of them. I want to think positively; I hope they are OK,” said Muhamad Islam Bintang Lima, dressed in the school uniform of white shirt and navy blue trousers.
Most of the dead from the quake and tsunami were in Palu, the region’s main urban center. Figures for more remote areas are trickling in but they seem to have suffered fewer deaths than the city.
Sulawesi is one of Indonesia’s five main islands. The archipelago sees frequent earthquakes and occasional 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.
A spokesman for the national disaster mitigation agency said on Sunday searches for bodies would stop on Thursday.
Debris would be cleared and areas hit by liquefaction would be turned into parks, sports venues and other public spaces, the spokesman said.
Indonesia is hosting an International Monetary Fund/World Bank meeting on the resort island of Bali this week, which has drawn some criticism from the political opposition.
“What is the benefit for us Indonesian people, especially in this time of catastrophe,” Fadli Zon, deputy speaker of parliament from the opposition nationalist Gerindra party, said on Twitter, taking issue with government spending on the meeting.
The government has allocated $37 million to help victims of the earthquake.
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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