Indonesia:Mass burials as death toll tops 832 on quake-tsunami disaster

Indonesia disaster agency says a mass burial will be held in the city of Palu. At least 832 people have died following the quake-tsunami disaster on Friday last week.

The death toll in Indonesia’s quake-tsunami disaster nearly doubled to at least 832 on Sunday as ill-equipped rescuers struggled to reach scores of trapped victims, health officials resorted to mass burials and desperate residents looted shops for food and water.

Dozens of corpses lay in an open courtyard at the back of a Palu hospital, baking under a fierce tropical sun, with only one building separating it from an open triage site on the opposite side.

“The casualties will keep increasing,” said national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, whose agency announced 832 deaths.
“Today we will start the mass burial of victims, to avoid the spread of disease.”

Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla said the final death toll in the north of Sulawesi island could be in the “thousands” since many regions have still not been reached.

The initial quake struck as evening prayers were about to begin in the world’s biggest Muslim majority country on the holiest day of the week.

Indonesia is one of the world’s most disaster-prone nations.

It lies on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, where tectonic plates collide and many of the world’s volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.

Earlier this year a series of powerful quakes hit Lombok, killing more than 500 people on the holiday island and neighbouring Sumbawa.

Indonesia has been hit by a string of other deadly quakes including a devastating 9.1-magnitude earthquake that struck off the coast of Sumatra in December 2004.

That Boxing Day quake triggered a tsunami that killed 220,000 throughout the region, including 168,000 in Indonesia.

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