Death toll from Indonesia earthquake and tsunami tops 1,500

Posted at 12:19 PM, Oct 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-04 14:19:35-04

PALU, Indonesia (AP) – The Latest on the earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia (all times local):

1:15 a.m.

Indonesia’s disaster agency says the death toll from the earthquake and tsunami that struck central Sulawesi island a week ago has surged past 1,500.

The agency, which earlier Thursday says the death toll was 1,424, updated the number of dead to 1,558 on Twitter later the same day.

The disasters struck Palu and surrounding districts in Central Sulawesi province last Friday.


8.15 p.m.

A French rescue worker says his team, using high-tech scanners, has detected a person believed to be still alive under the rubble of a hotel in the Indonesian city of Palu, nearly a week after it was struck by a powerful earthquake and tsunami.

Philip Besson, a member of the French organization Pompiers de l’urgence, said the team “detected the presence of a victim” in the wreckage of the Mercure Hotel but wasn’t able to say if the person is conscious.

Besson said the team was unable to reach the victim, who was trapped under thick concrete. The team only had a hand drill and stopped digging as night fell. Besson said it will bring heavy equipment early Friday to try and rescue the person.

More than 1,400 people were killed in last Friday’s earthquake and tsunami.


7.45 p.m.

Indonesian national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho says the body of a South Korean missing since last Friday’s earthquake and tsunami in central Sulawesi has been found.

Local television reported that rescuers pulled out the bodies of the South Korean and an Indonesian from under the wreckage of the Roa Roa Hotel in the city of Palu, where most of the 1,424 deaths have been. The report said the two were paragliding athletes taking part in an event in the area.

Nugroho confirmed that rescuers found the body of the South Korean, making him the only foreigner known to have perished in the disaster. He earlier said that 120 foreigners were reported to be in the disaster-struck zone, but 119 have been rescued and evacuated.


6.30 p.m.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi says military transport aircraft from India and Singapore have arrived to help in relief efforts in central Sulawesi, which was hit by a powerful earthquake and tsunami.

Marsudi says 18 countries have offered help, and agreements have been reached with some of them. She told reporters that the government is still working out arrangements with other countries including Japan and the U.S.

National disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said 11 transport aircraft have been pledged, including two each from Singapore, South Korea, the U.K. and Malaysia, and one from India. He said Japan and Qatar are waiting for clearance to send planes.

He said the aircraft will be used to transport supplies and evacuate victims.

More than 1,400 people were killed in last Friday’s earthquake and tsunami.


3 p.m.

Australia’s first delivery of urgent supplies will arrive soon in Indonesia to help up to 10,000 people displaced by the earthquake and tsunami.

Royal Australian Air Force Capt. Bryan Parker says the military transport plane will reach central Sulawesi late Thursday from Darwin.

The plane was loaded with what he described as family kits – clothing, bedding, food-making equipment, tarpaulins and tools for building shelters.

Parker says Australian officials are ready to help the Indonesians transfer the aid further in the disaster zone. He says how many plane loads of aid fly from Darwin will depend on future Indonesian requests for help.

The aid is part of a $3.6 million relief commitment, including more than 50 medical professionals, that Australia made on Wednesday.


2:45 p.m.

Indonesia’s disaster agency says the death toll from the earthquake and tsunami that struck a central island last week has increased slightly to 1,424.

National disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho provided the updated figure Thursday at a news conference in Jakarta.

The disasters struck Palu and surrounding districts in Central Sulawesi province last Friday.

Nugroho said other victims still are buried in the mud and debris and have not yet been recovered.


2 p.m.

Indonesian police say 92 people have been arrested for looting goods in areas devastated by an earthquake and tsunami in Central Sulawesi province.

National police Brig. Gen. Dedi Prasetyo said Thursday security will be increased to ensure law and order in Palu, the largest city in the disaster zone.

Local television reported the 92 people detained were caught with goods including motor oil, tires, ceramic tiles, and farming equipment. They were from Palu and the surrounding districts struck by the disasters last Friday.

Aid has been slow to reach survivors, and desperate villagers have stormed into shops to grab food supplies. Authorities have said villagers should only take food and that shops can be compensated later.

Prasetyo noted that the president has encouraged economic activities to restart but that businesses can’t do that without security.


1 p.m.

An airport damaged by the earthquake in central Indonesia is expected to re-open to civilian traffic later Thursday.

Indonesian officials expect Palu’s airport to re-open later in the day as the Indonesian military is bringing in more troops to assist with security and the search effort.

Lt. Col. Agus Hariyanto said 100 marines landed Thursday at Palu airport and 200 more were on their way. The military planes are also being used to evacuate injured people and other survivors from Palu, the biggest city in the earthquake-hit region.

Several non-governmental groups were also arriving. Taiwan’s Tzu Chi Foundation sent a 10-person team consisting of doctors and nurses from Jakarta with more to arrive later. They will help evacuate several injured patients waiting at the airport.

Among those leaving are a group of students attending an Islamic competition in the Sumatran city of Medan. Fitriani, a student from Palu who goes by one name, said his group survived the disaster but wasn’t sure they could attend the competition until they were told they could board the military plane.


10 a.m.

Life is on hold for thousands living in tents and shelters in the Indonesian city hit by a powerful earthquake and tsunami.

They are unsure when they’ll be able to rebuild and spend hours each day often futilely trying to secure necessities such as fuel for generators.

Residents whose homes had been destroyed had little but uncertainty on the seventh day since the disasters. But they also had hope more aid would pour into the city of Palu and the surrounding Donggala district on the island of Sulawesi.

The official toll has surpassed 1,400 deaths with thousands injured and 70,000 residents displaced. The death toll was expected to increase, but officials said rescue crews had reached all affected areas.

The U.N. announced a $15 million allocation to bolster relief efforts.

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