International aid rolls into quake-tsunami struck Indonesia


Children in the Indonesian city of Palu began returning to school on Monday to tidy up their classrooms and hopefully see their friends 10 days after a major natural disaster and tsunami struck.

Social welfare officials have set up nurseries in makeshift tents as a stopgap to keep children safe and help them heal from the trauma.

In the Balaroa neighbourhood, also laid waste by liquefaction, the most intact structure was a battered two-storey house, pitched over at almost 45 degrees with one side buried and a blue vehicle in the auto port. Rescuers found about 25 bodies, laying them out in a row of blue and orange bags.

More than 70,000 people have been left homeless from the disaster and 1,571 people have been confirmed dead. One villager said they survived by ransacking shops.

Hundreds of Muslim survivors in the Indonesian city of Palu have gathered at shattered mosques for Friday prayers, seeking strength to rebuild their lives a week after a powerful natural disaster and tsunami killed more than 1,500 people.

"Evacuation stops on October 11", the national disaster mitigation agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told a news briefing.

Two of his soldiers emerge from the ditch with the bag sagging in the middle but looking too light to be a corpse - they said they had found the heads of two adults and one child.

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

"We don't want the community to be relocated to such risky places", Nugroho said.

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They are hoping more aid will arrive in the shattered city of Palu and the surrounding Donggala district on the island of Sulawesi. "They erupted in cheers and gave a thumbs-up sign before we took off".

Udrekh, a disaster expert at Indonesia's Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT), said Indonesia is discussing with Japan whether to invest in seabed cables with sensors that could detect tsunami and earthquakes, similar to a system in Japan.

There was a major push in the region to improve warning systems after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami killed more than 120,000 in Indonesia alone, including establishing a network of 22 warning buoys to detect tsunamis that was put in place with German and U.S. help. Eight victims in black body bags were arranged in a row at the crumpled neighbourhood of Balaroa, destined for a mass grave.

Dozens of Christians gathered outside ruined churches on the island of Sulawesi on Sunday for open-air services to give thanks for their survival and to mourn members of their congregation killed in a devastating quake.

"It's quite sad and devastating for me", said Christma Nathali.

Jono Oge was particularly hard hit by liquefaction. Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim country.

Indonesia is frequently struck by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis because of its location on the "Ring of Fire", an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin. The number of bodies lying beneath the mound of rubble, metal and mud is unknown.

In 2004, a quake off Sumatra island triggered a tsunami across the Indian Ocean that killed 226,000 people in 13 countries, including more than 120,000 in Indonesia.