Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Indonesia natural disaster: Search and rescue effort called off

Indonesia earthquake: Huge 6.0 magnitude rocks volcanic Java island Huge earthquake rocks Bali forcing locals to flee their homes
Pablo Mccormick | 11 October, 2018, 10:59

A photo released early Thursday by Indonesia's accident mitigation agency BNPB, shows damage in East Java's Sumenep district.

"I don't have any tears left, all I want is to find them", said Ahmad, 43, a farmer who was waiting near a pile of debris that used to be home in Palu's Balaroa neighborhood.

At least 2,045 people have been confirmed dead and as many as 5,000 others are believed to be missing after a 7.5-magnitude quake struck the coast of one of the Southeast Asian archipelago's largest islands on September 28.

The quake was also felt in Surabaya, the capital of East Java province, which is about 200 kilometres from Situbondo, the nearest town to the quake epicentre. People poured out of their houses.

The country is a particular hotspot for earthquakes as it is located on the Ring of Fire, a 40,000km area in the Pacific Ocean.

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Bali is hosting the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank this week, which are being attended by more than 19,000 delegates and other guests, including ministers and some leaders.

Some tourists and residents on Bali went outdoors as a precaution but then back to sleep when there was no tsunami warning.

Indonesia suffered a powerful 7.5 magnitude quake and tsunami last month on the island of Sulawesi that killed more than 2,000 people.

The agency's spokesman, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, said the death toll from the double disaster on September 28 has risen to 2,045, with most of the fatalities in the coastal city of Palu.

An estimated 80,000 people have been displaced by the disaster, with many now living in tents outside their destroyed homes.

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Possibly 5,000 people were buried in places where the quake caused liquefaction, a phenomenon where wet soil weakens and collapses, becoming mud that sucks houses and everything else into the ground in a quicksand-like effect. Kilometers (miles) of coastline were trashed by the tsunami and Nugroho said its waves were up to 11 meters (36 feet) high.

"At the same time, if they ask us to help, if they're pointing "please look here, my family is under here", of course, we can't say "no", we have to dig".

After making a rare appeal for global assistance, Indonesia is now trying to limit foreign involvement in the disaster relief effort. Nugroho said there's no need for global aid other than the four priorities identified by Indonesia.

In a statement, Indonesia's foreign ministry explained that foreign aid workers must first coordinate with the national team, local agencies or non-governmental organisations leading the rescue and recovery effort. Groups that sent foreign personnel to the disaster zone are "advised to retrieve their personnel immediately", according to those guidelines.

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