Indonesia tsunami-quake death toll could soar over 2,000

Indonesia tsunami-quake death toll could soar over 2,000 as it is revealed 1,000 people are still missing

  • Some 1,424 people have already been confirmed dead after the disastrous quake
  • Hundreds buried in mass graves amid fears rotting corpses will cause diseases
  • 1,000 people are still missing in the neighbourhoods of Petobo, Balaroa and Sigi 

More than 2,000 people may have died in the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia, it has emerged, with more than a thousand still missing. 

Some 1,424 people have already been confirmed dead and buildings were reduced to rubble after monster earthquake struck on Friday, sending destructive waves barrelling into Sulawesi island. 

Hundreds have been buried in mass graves as overwhelmed authorities race to avert a disease outbreak from corpses rotting in the tropical heat.

Around 1,000 people are still missing in the neighbourhoods of Petobo, Balaroa and Sigi near the city of Palu which was wrecked by the disaster, Sky News reported. 

Indonesian soldiers carry a dead body from the ruins of houses in Balaroa – one of the neighbourhoods where hundreds are missing – after an earthquake hit the city of Palu

A boy injured during the tsunami is carried by his relative at a makeshift hospital in Palu today

A damaged mosque leans to one side in Palu today following the tsunami and earthquake

Today armed police were standing guard outside petrol stations to ensure order in long queues after tracks carrying supplies were ransacked en route to Palu.  

Police have been rounding up dozens of suspected looters and the military warned that soldiers will fire on anyone caught stealing.

Electricity was restored and some shops began reopening today but efforts to get aid to hungry and thirsty victims, many now homeless and sleeping in evacuation camps, were slow to get off the ground due to severed transport links.

Some banks reopened and a major mobile phone network was back in operation in the stricken city of Paluk, 370,000

Air force chief Yuyu Sutisna said foreign governments, including Singapore, South Korea and Britain, were sending 20 planes to help in the relief effort. 

Australia and New Zealand are sending air force transport planes to Indonesia carrying tarpaulins, generators and water containers. 

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A team of French rescuers were in Palu and helping search teams on Thursday, while NGO Oxfam said it expects to be on the ground by Saturday. 

Palu airport, badly damaged in the twin disaster, finally re-opened to all flights Thursday, allowing the international aid effort to ramp up. 

The Indonesian government initially refused to accept international help, insisting its own military could handle the response.

But as the scale of the disaster became clear President Joko Widodo reluctantly agreed to allow in overseas aid.  

Desperate survivors, some crying, waited to get a spot on the vessel which was set to return to the city of Makassar in southern Sulawesi, and brief scuffles broke out with soldiers.

A missing South Korean has been confirmed dead, Seoul’s foreign ministry said, in the first recorded foreigner fatality. 

Wreckage in a devastated area of the Petobo subdistrict in Palu where 1,000 are still missing

Thirty-eight-year-old Akbar stands near his damage house as an excavator works to find people in the rubble at Petobo village in Palu on Thursday 

Indonesian children carry a bucket of useable water at a temporary camp in Palu today 

Indonesian soldiers carry a dead body from the ruins of houses after the earthquake struck

A damaged car lies in a tsunami-devastated area in the Petobo neighbourhood of Palu

A damaged picture of Jesus belonging to the Indonesia Donggala Christian Church in Palu

A Belgian remains missing while over 100 other foreigners in the ravaged area have been evacuated, the disaster agency said.

Indonesia, which has a longstanding problem with ‘fake news’, vowed to clamp down after false reports related to the disaster circulated online, including one saying another quake had hit Sulawesi.

Police said Thursday they arrested nine suspected online hoaxers, fearing fake online reports could sow panic among suffering survivors.

‘If you spread this kind of information, you’re just going to create more suffering and confusion for people,’ said Daryono, head of the geophysics agency’s quake and tsunami information centre, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

Rescuers seeking survivors are focusing on half a dozen key sites around Palu, including a shopping mall and the Balaroa area where the sheer force of the quake turned the earth temporarily to mush.

At the badly damaged Mercure hotel, a team of Indonesian rescuers working with French NGO International Emergency Firefighters used sniffer dogs and high-tech equipment to search for survivors. 

Rescue workers are pushing into outlying districts, where residents have said they have been scavenging for coconuts, bananas and cassava.

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 towards the epicentre of the quake, 50 miles from Palu. 

A sofa is seen among the ruins of a house after the earthquake and tsunami struck Balaroa

Damaged cars sit in a tsunami-devastated area at Petobo today, six days after the earthquake

Palu residents search for salvageable items among the ruins of a house on Thursday 

An excavator works to find people in the tsunami-devastated Indonesian city of Palu today 

A French member of the International Emergency Firefighter looks at a device before entering the badly damaged Mercure hotel search and rescue operations in Palu

A man stands amid the damage near boats swept ashore by the tsunami in Wani village on the outskirts of Palu today 

Indonesian soldiers prepare to dock down a military ship with evacuees from earthquake and tsunami-hit Palu on board at Soekarno Hatta port in Makassar

Indonesian children access usable water at a temporary camp in Palu on Thursday 

Palu residents transport their belongings using a motorcycle in the village of Petobo

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