Indonesia says death toll in Sulawesi quake rises past 2000

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Indonesian authorities yesterday called off the search for thousands still believed missing since a powerful 7.5-magnitude quake and tsunami devastated Palu city in Sulawesi island a fortnight ago.

On search and rescue mission for the victims of the deadly disasters, head of the national disaster management agency Willem Rampangilei said, the operation will be terminated on Thursday, which will be the 14th day after the strikes on September 28. The strongest had a magnitude of 7.5 and triggered a tsunami that hit land at a speed of 800km per hour with waves of up to 6m.

Two weeks after a 7.4-magnitude quake struck Central Sulawesi province, triggering a tsunami and soil liquefaction, 2,073, people were confirmed dead and 87,725 displaced, the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) said on Thursday.

These next few days, the prayers should be held in three of the towns most affected around Palu: Balaroa, Petobo and Jono Oge.

"I tell my family they have to be strong, not scared, so that I can be strong", said Joko, 41.

"I prayed that this disaster will end soon", said Rostin Timaloto, a 58-year-old woman. More than 5,000 people remain missing.

Planeloads of donations have flown into Palu from the United States, Australia, the European Union and the Philippines, among many others.

An estimated 80,000 people have been displaced by the disaster, with many now living in tents outside their destroyed homes.

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"There are so many children still missing, we want to find them quickly", said Amin, who is from Balaroa and has relatives unaccounted for.

More than 90 volunteers and staff from the Indonesian Red Cross - another branch of the Red Cross charity - were on the ground immediately after the incidents took place.

Humanitarian assistance has poured into the disaster-ravaged city but the recovery ever been criticised as moving too slowly.

Foreign aid groups with existing bases in Indonesia should be able to continue to provide support, Ms van Baaren said.

Ahmed Bham, from South African charity Gift of the Givers, was told that new rules barred foreign urban search and rescue teams (USAR) from playing any part in retrieving the dead.

'They say there is no need for aid in Indonesia. Killing at least 1763, more than 5,000 went missing.

The quake did not trigger any tsunami, said Indonesia's Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG).

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