Indonesian authorities on Monday said that the toll after the earthquake and tsunami that hit Sulawesi island on September 28 has risen to 1,944, reported AFP. “That number is expected to rise, because we have not received orders to halt the search for bodies,” military spokesperson M Thohir said.
Thohir is also a member of the government’s official Palu quake task force.
Authorities on Sunday said at least 5,000 people were missing after the twin catastrophe. However, search and rescue operations will cease on October 11, after which those missing will be listed as “missing, presumed dead”, said National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho. The government has said that those communities flattened in Palu will be declared as mass graves.
On Monday, excavation machines looked for survivors in Balaroa where a government housing complex went under after the disaster. According to local authorities, at least 5,000 people were feared buried at Balaroa and Petabo (in Palu), a cluster of villages that disappeared into the earth as the force of the quake liquified its soft soil.
The Red Cross said it had treated more than 1,800 people at clinics and provided first aid to an equal number.
The National Disaster Mitigation Agency on Sunday said that survivors have started to return to their homes, reported The Jakarta Post. “[The survivors] cannot stay for very long in the displaced persons’ camps because [the children] must return to school soon,” said Nugroho. Since more than 2,500 schools in Palu, Donggala and Sigi were damaged in the disaster, emergency schools may be set up using tents, he said.