The extent of the devastation caused by an earthquake and tsunami on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi should become clearer on Tuesday as rescuers push into remote areas that have been out of contact for more than three days.
Officials fear the death toll will rise into the thousands but the number of confirmed deaths stood at 844 on Tuesday, most of them in the small city of Palu, 1,500 km (930 miles) northeast of Jakarta.
Some of the dead were taken to a mass grave on Tuesday while rescuers hunting for victims in the ruins held out hope they could still save lives.
“We suspect there are still some survivors trapped inside,” the head of on rescue team, Agus Haryono, told Reuters at the collapsed seven-floor Hotel Roa Roa.
About 50 people were believed to have been caught inside the hotel when it was brought down by the 7.5 magnitude earthquake on Friday.
The quake triggered tsunami waves as high as six meters (20 feet) that smashed into the city’s beachfront, about 2 km from the hotel. About 12 people have been recovered from the ruins of the hotel, with one more body on Tuesday.
Three of the victims were recovered alive.
Haryono pored over the hotel’s blueprints and building plans, searching for possible pockets and a way through to them. A faint smell of decomposition hung in the air.
“We have to be very careful so we don’t risk hurting any survivors when we move the debris,” he said.
Power has yet to be restored in the area and access by land to outlying villages has been disrupted by broken roads, landslides and downed bridges.
Nearly 60,000 people have been displaced and are in need of emergency help, while thousands have been streaming out of stricken areas.
There was mounting concern over Donggala, a region of 300,000 people north of Palu and close to the epicenter, and two other districts. The three areas have a combined population of about 1.4 million.
Indonesia has said it would accept offers of international aid, having shunned outside help earlier this year when an earthquake struck the island of Lombok.
Aftershocks have rattled jangled nerves.
A particular horror in several areas in and around Palu was liquefaction, which happens when soil shaken by an earthquake behaves like a liquid.
About 1,700 houses in one neighborhood were swallowed up, with hundreds of people believed buried, the national disaster agency said.
Among those killed in the area were 34 children at a Christian bible study camp, a Red Cross official said.
Before-and-after satellite pictures show a largely built-up neighborhood just south of Palu’s airport seemingly wiped clean of all signs of life by liquefaction.
Elsewhere on the outskirts of Palu, trucks brought 35 bodies for burial in a mass grave dug in sandy soil.
Most of the bodies had not been claimed, a policemen helping with the burial said, but some relatives turned up to pay respects to loved ones at the 50 meter (165 feet) trench, where the smell of decomposition was overpowering.
“I have nothing now. My house is destroyed and I can’t even give him his own funeral,” said Rosmawati Binti Yahya, 52, whose husband was among those placed in the grave.
“It’s OK if he’s buried in the mass grave, it’s better to have him buried fast,” said Yahya, before heading off to look for her missing daughter.
As rescuers and aid workers fanned out into remote areas, the Red Cross said initial reports from the outskirts of Donggala district were chilling.
“The situation in the affected areas is nightmarish,” Jan Gelfand, head of an International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies office in Jakarta, said in a statement.
“The city of Palu has been devastated and first reports out of Donggala indicate that it has also been hit extremely hard.”
Commercial airlines have struggled to restore operations at Palu’s quake-damaged airport but military aircraft took some survivors out on Monday, while about 3,000 people thronged the airport hoping for any flight out.
A navy vessel capable of taking 1,000 people at a time was due to be deployed to help with the evacuation.
The power company was working to restore electricity while the state oil firm had sent in fuel, officials said.
Teams of police were out on the streets on Tuesday, clearing debris and providing some reassurance to traumatized residents worried about looting.
But anger has been simmering.
“Stop hiding Mr Mayor,” was daubed on a wall in one part of Palu. Mayor Hidayat was unavailable for comment.
New Zealand: 49 Killed In Mass Shooting At Two Mosques In Christchurch
49 persons have been killed and 20 seriously injured in two mass shootings at mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.
Forty-one were killed at the al Noor mosque. Seven died at the Linwood mosque, and one person died at the hospital.
Police say four persons, including three men and one woman, have been taken into custody. They do not believe there are any other suspects but said it was still an open investigation.
Police said a male, in his late 20s, has been charged with murder and will appear at the Christchurch court Saturday morning local time.
In a social media post just before the attack, an account that is believed to belong to one of the attackers posted a link to an 87-page manifesto that was filled with anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim ideas and explanations for an attack. The manifesto was not signed.
Britain Votes In Favor Of Delaying Brexit
Britain’s parliament has voted in favour of delaying by three months, UK’s departure from the European Union pending approval of Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal within a week.
MPs in the house of commons voted four hundred twelve to two hundred two on Thursday in Favour of a government motion proposing pushing the UK’s exit from the bloc beyond the scheduled March the 29th date.
The motion said the government would seek a “one-off extension” until June the 30th “for the purpose of passing the necessary EU exit legislation,” provided May’s widely maligned deal wins parliament’s approval by Wednesday next week.
If May fails to win parliamentary approval for her deal by march 20, the Brexit delay could be extended beyond three months. Twice now, British legislators have overwhelmingly rejected her EU divorce deal.
Israel Launches Gaza Air Attacks After Rockets Fired At Tel Aviv
Israel launched air attacks on Gaza hours after rockets were fired aimed at Tel Aviv.
This has raised fears of a major escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Explosions were heard in the Gaza strip early on Friday and Palestinian witnesses said Israeli planes bombed Hamas security positions.
A Gaza Palestinian security source told AFP news agency about 30 raids targeted positions held by the military wing of Hamas and its ally Islamic jihad, causing significant damage.
Local Palestinian agencies reported a woman and her husband were both injured in the southern city of Rafah, but did not provide further details.
Israeli military said it was attacking “terror sites” in Gaza, hours after it said two rockets were launched from the enclave in the Tel Aviv area.
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