Indonesia's quake, tsunami reaches 1,571, search mission extended

A man holds bottles of body lotion scavenged from an abandoned warehouse in Palu Indonesia

The powerful quake and tsunami that struck Palu and surrounding areas on September 28 left at least 1,649 people dead.

The tsunami-swept Palu city on Indonesia's Sulawesi Island still lingers with helplessness due to stalled economy following multiple cuts down on electricity and fuel supplies that paralyzed activities to run the city.

An quake with a 7.5 magnitude struck Sulawesi on Friday, 28 September; almost 30 minutes later, waves six metres high hit the town of Pula as a tsunami raged through.

Police have done little to stop outbreaks of looting.

Most of those displaced by the natural disaster were among the 350,000 residents of Palu.

Attention has focused on the huge number of children left orphaned, or separated from their families in the chaos as buildings collapsed across Palu and people were swept away by huge waves. Workers said they meant to fix all the damage to the networks and substations and get them reconnected to the grid within days. "Young children searching for surviving relatives will have witnessed and lived through horrific experiences which no child should ever have to see".

After initially refusing outside help, Indonesia reluctantly agreed to foreign aid, and 20 planes carrying items including tarpaulins, medical equipment and generators are heading from all over the world to the disaster zone.

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Catastrophe bonds and the support of International Monetary Fund and World Bank entities could help Indonesia to put in place a funding mechanism that provides liquidity immediately after disaster strike, while the insurance and reinsurance market could help the government protect its own balance-sheet and buffer taxpayers.

Military officials said Palu's airport is expected to reopen for civilian traffic later on Thursday. He called on Tuesday for reinforcements in the search for survivors, saying everyone had to be found.

The Central Emergency Response Fund has already allocated $15 million to support the activities included in the Response Plan, and will fund projects in logistics, water and sanitation, camp management, health, shelter, protection, and food security and livelihoods. The Red Cross is dispatching ships loaded with supplies including field kitchens, tents, body bags and mosquito nets.

More than 1200 people have died in central Sulawesi, which was hit with a quake and then a destructive tsunami last week.

Indonesian authorities said that there have been 422 aftershocks in the past week, including one 6.3 magnitude tremor.

He was referring to the vast Balaroa government housing complex that was flattened by the quake.

At the badly damaged Mercure hotel on Palu's waterfront, there was growing frustration among a French and Indonesian search team.

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