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Indonesian quake death toll tops 1,400 as hospitals struggle to cope


Indonesian quake death toll tops 1,400 as hospitals struggle to cope

Indonesian quake death toll tops 1,400 as hospitals struggle to cope

The death toll from two earthquakes and a tsunami that hit Indonesia’s Sulawesi island rose to 1,407 on Wednesday, an official said, as hospitals struggled to cope with the high number of casualties amid a shortage of power and fuel. 

More than 2,550 were hospitalized with serious injuries and 113 were missing after Friday’s disaster, according to the National Disaster Management Agency spokesman Sutopo Nugroho.

“We expect the figures will continue to increase,” he said.

More than 70,000 have been forced from their homes, he added.

Some of the injured were being evacuated as hospitals in the city of Palu suffered power outages, according to Bambang Sadewo, a military officer charged with the evacuation.

“They need treatment but because there’s still no electricity, they can’t be treated in Palu,” he said.

Bambang added that 15 aircraft, including Hercules C-130 cargo planes, will be used to carry the injured to Makassar, the capital of South Sulawesi province.

At Palu’s Mutiara Al Jufri Airport, injured victims were being treated in army camp beds, with some wearing leg and arm casts.

Rifki, one of the patients awaiting evacuation, said he and his wife had been severely injured in the earthquake.

“The ground below us suddenly moved like a blender and crushed our feet,” he said. “There’s no way we can get treatment here. There are no facilities or drugs. We have been given only painkillers.”

Another survivor waiting to be evacuated, Basrun, said his wife was knocked unconscious during the earthquake and had still not woken up. “She has not undergone a scan,” he said.

On Wednesday, rescuers found 10 bodies under the ruins of a collapsed eight-storey hotel, local news channel Metro TV reported.

Aid has begun to arrive after the disaster, however the pace remained slow due to damaged infrastructure.

President Joko Widodo, who visited Palu for a second time on Wednesday, said the government was doing all it could to bring aid to the victims.

“Food supplies have begun coming in, though not at maximum speed,” Joko said, as he inspected a rescue effort at the Roa Roa hotel, where about 30 people were believed to be still trapped.

“Fuel and heavy machinery are coming in too and electricity is being repaired. Everything takes time,” he said, appealing for patience.

Elsewhere on Sulawesi island, the Mount Soputan volcano erupted on Wednesday, sending ash 4 kilometres into the sky, the national disaster management agency said.

There were no immediate reports of casualties and the ash was not considered a threat to aviation, Sutopo added.

The alert level for the volcano remained at one level below normal but “residents should be wary of the threat of mudflows, which can happen after an eruption,” he said.

The 1,785-metre-tall volcano last ejected ash plumes and searing gas in January and February 2016, after months of increased activity.

The volcano lies about 900 kilometres away from the area affected by the earthquake and tsunami.

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