Indonesia natural disaster and tsunami: At least 884 buried in mass grave

Indonesia natural disaster and tsunami: At least 884 buried in mass grave

Indonesia natural disaster and tsunami: At least 884 buried in mass grave

PALU, Indonesia-Brightly colored body bags were placed side-by-side in a freshly dug mass grave Monday, as a hard-hit Indonesian city began burying its dead from the devastating natural disaster and tsunami that killed more than 840 people and left thousands homeless.

Indonesian volunteers dug mass graves for more than 1,000 bodies today after a quake and tsunami devastated swathes of Sulawesi, as authorities - struggling to deal with the sheer scale of the disaster - appealed for global help.

The horrific death toll and scale of devastation from the quake and tsunami that struck the central Indonesian island of Sulawesi is becoming apparent.

The disaster agency said a tsunami warning system, which might have saved lives, had not worked for six years due to a lack of money.

"We will send food today, as much as possible with several aircraft", Widodo told reporters in the capital of Jakarta.

Sulawesi is one of the earthquake-prone archipelago nation's five main islands and sits astride fault lines.

The dead - many yet uncounted, their bodies still trapped in the rubble of collapsed buildings - are also a source of concern for authorities.

The tsunami was triggered by a 7.5-magnitude quake that struck along the coastal district of Donggala on Friday.

One woman was recovered alive from ruins overnight in the Palu neighborhood of Balaroa, where about 1,700 houses were swallowed up when the quake caused soil to liquefy, the national rescue agency said. Officials had estimated about 50 people could be inside.

But, almost three days after the quake, the extent of the disaster has yet to be made clear with authorities bracing for the death toll to climb sharply - perhaps into the thousands - as connections with remote areas up and down the coast are restored. This is an increase of 12 people since Sunday, however, the areas of Donggala, Sigi and Parigi Moutong have yet to be fully assessed.

Conditions in the devastated area are grim, with food and water supplies running low and few buildings sturdy enough to offer safety from any aftershocks.

Multiple failures: Although text message alerts were sent to warn locals of the approaching tsunami, the earlier quake had brought down power and communication lines around the area, meaning alerts were never received.

Reuters news agency reports that police are escorting aid convoys to prevent supplies being stolen.

Three French nationals and a South Korean, who may have been staying at a flattened hotel, had not yet been accounted for, it added.

A double-arched yellow bridge had collapsed, its ribs twisted as cars bobbed in the water below.

But many people are still looking for missing loved ones. Other roads around the city were damaged by the quake or blocked by ensuing landslides.

"We have not seen anything like it before, for not only were there no readings in the buoys and tide gauges, only a small narrow bay was hit", said E. Pattabhi Rama Rao, head, Ocean Observations & Data Management Group, Tsunami & Storm Surge Early Warning Services Group, INCOIS.

Thousands of desperate people, mostly women and children, have swarmed the airport in the Indonesian city of Palu in a failed bid to push their way onto an Indonesian Air Force plane days after a powerful natural disaster and tsunami devastated the city.

Tsunami warning systems set up after the 2004 tsunami - that killed 168,000 people in Indonesia - appeared to have failed.

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