Indonesian authorities on Sunday said 1,763 people were killed and 5,000 people were missing from the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Palu on Indonesia’s Sulawesi island on September 28, reported AFP.
“Based on reports from the [village] heads of Balaroa and Petobo [in Palu], there are about 5,000 people who have not been found,” said National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho. “Nevertheless, officials there are still trying to confirm this and are gathering data. It is not easy to obtain the exact number of those trapped by landslides, or liquefaction, or mud.”
Nugroho said the search for missing people will continue till Thursday after which they will be listed as ‘missing, presumed dead’. Officials had initially predicted that around 1,000 people were buried beneath the ruins of Palu.
There are fears that a large numbers of bodies could be buried beneath Petobo and Balaroa - two neighbourhoods that were the worst-hit. Indonesia’s security minister, Wiranto, said the government is considering designating these two neighbourhoods as mass graves, according to Al Jazeera.
Petabo and large sections of Balaroa disappeared into the earth as the force of the quake liquified its soft soil.