The Indonesian tsunami death toll just passed 1,200 — and hundreds more remain buried

Survivors held up signs saying, “We Need Food” and “We Need Support.”
October 2, 2018, 11:04am
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The death toll from Friday’s devastating earthquake and tsunami on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi was raised to 1,234 Tuesday, with officials warning the figure will rise further as victims are dug out of the rubble.

Tens of thousands of people who were left homeless by the tsunami have grown frustrated and angry at the lack of government response to water, food and fuel shortages.

“Pay attention to Donggala, Mr. Jokowi. Pay attention to Donggala,” yelled one resident in footage broadcast on local television, referring to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo. “There are still a lot of unattended villages here.”


The city of Palu has been the main focus of rescue efforts to date, but the Donggala area — which was the closest to the epicenter of Friday’s 7.5-magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami — and other outlying regions have received little assistance due to impassable roads.

National disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho officially raised the death toll Tuesday, adding that some 799 people were badly injured and 62,000 were displaced from their homes.

A boy stands in front of a stranded ship after a deadly tsunami struck the area on October 2, 2018 in Donggala, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. (Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)

The United Nations relief agency estimates that close to 200,000 people on the island are in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

READ: Photos show the aftermath of Indonesia's deadly tsunami

Nugroho said the government was working to speed up the delivery of aid, noting that a plane carrying 12,000 liters of water was en route, along with convoys of trucks carrying food supplies. The trucks are being protected by police over fears of looting.

Signs of desperation are everywhere in Palu, with survivors holding up signs saying “We Need Food” and “We Need Support,” while children beg for cash in the street.

Those looking to escape the devastation had little success Monday, with 3,000 people turning up at the airport hoping to get on the limited military and commercial flights out of Palu.

Widodo has welcomed foreign aid, with the EU, China, and the U.S. among those already pledging assistance. Australia pledged $360,000 and is already in talks with Indonesian authorities about a second round of aid. Google’s Sundar Pichai announced the company had pledged $1 million to help victims.

Rescue workers continued to dig through the rubble and mud Tuesday hoping to find survivors, but a lack of heavy lifting equipment means that many areas remain inaccessible.

Cover image: Members of an Indonesian rescue team remove the body of a quake victim retrieved from a collapsed building in Palu in Central Sulawesi on October 2, 2018, after an earthquake and tsunami hit the area on September 28. (YUSUF WAHIL/AFP/Getty Images)