5000 feared missing as search for Indonesia quake victims continues

French members of the International Emergency Firefighters prepare to enter the badly damaged Mercure hotel for search and rescue operations in Palu in Indonesia's Central Sulawesi

NZDF evacuates 120 quake survivors on Hercules aircraft from Palu

More than 1570 people have been confirmed dead after a magnitude 7.5 natural disaster struck near Central Sulawesi last week, setting off a destructive tsunami that hit the coastal city of Palu.

The natural disaster and subsequent tsunami that struck Palu, Central Sulawesi, on 28 September are estimated to have destroyed 10,000 houses and damaged a further 55,000.

The Indonesian military will deliver the supplies to the quake victims.

"There was a palpable sense of relief from the evacuees when they got into our Herc", he said.

Indonesia's National Board for Disaster Management says, as of Saturday, 1,649 people have been confirmed dead, and more than 60,000 have been forced to evacuate.

"Most of the victims were found in Palu and they were hit by tsunami, particularly in the coastal areas near Talise beach", the spokesman said. In the most badly affected places, however, access is still a significant obstacle, said Paul Dillon, spokesperson for the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) "Part of the problem is that the areas that are closest to the tsunami, where the tsunami hit hardest, are literally buried in mud".

Aid is continuing to pour into hard-hit areas of Indonesia's Sulawesi island, which has been rattled by some 450 aftershocks since an natural disaster and tsunami struck just over a week ago.

"You have people circling those areas trying to get in but it's literally inaccessible", he said, adding that even standing just 200 metres from the remains of buildings "you can't actually get into those areas because the mud is thigh- or waist-deep".

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Doctors said many patients have been at high risk of infection because they were buried in mud. He says how many plane loads of aid fly from Darwin will depend on future Indonesian requests for help.

He said death toll is expected to rise as there are reports that hundreds of locals were feared to be still trapped under the ruins of the houses leveled by the quakes. Multinational companies such as Google and Apple have also pledged monetary assistance, in addition to £11.6 million from the United Nations and millions more from other countries.

Indonesia has traditionally been reluctant to be seen as relying on outside help to cope with disasters, and the government shunned foreign aid this year when earthquakes struck the island of Lombok.

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman of Indonesia's Mitigation and Disaster Agency (BNPB), holds a second news conference to brief reporters, September 29, 2018.

Aid has been slow to reach survivors, and desperate villagers have stormed into shops to grab food supplies.

A woman stands on the rubble of houses at Petobo neighbourhood which was wiped out by earthquake-triggered liquefaction in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018. "I didn't manage to take any valuables but we are alive and that's most important", Yuli, who goes by one name, said on local television.

Several non-governmental groups were also arriving.

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