Indonesia Quake, Tsunami Survivors Unite for Mass Prayer Service

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The official death toll has reached 1,424 with thousands more injured and more than 70,000 residents displaced from their homes.

Worldwide help for survivors has gathered pace, but communities in more remote areas have been cut off by broken roads, landslides and crippled communications, leaving people increasingly desperate for basic needs as aid has only just begun to trickle through.

"We have to distribute supplies as quickly as possible, especially to remote areas".

A week after a major natural disaster brought devastation to Indonesia's Sulawesi island, Hasnah has trouble remembering all of the dead relatives she's trying to find in the tangled expanse of mud and debris that used to be her neighbourhood. Of the more than 1,500 people who were killed in the catastrophe, the vast majority hailed from the city of almost 300,000.

After days of delays, global aid is slowly making its way to the disaster zone, where the United Nations says nearly 200,000 people need humanitarian assistance.


Residents whose homes have been destroyed spend hours often futilely trying to secure necessities such as fuel for generators, seven days on from the disasters. "We are relieved that these much-needed supplies have arrived by plane and are starting to get through", Zubedy Koteng from Save the Children said in a statement.

"Things are improving", Azhari Samad, a 56-year-old insurance salesman, told AFP at a mosque in Palu.

"It is a very severe disaster here that is going to take a long time to recover from", he said. In all, about 20 countries have offered help. "Indonesians have a big heart". "We pray we can be safe in Palu".

"Today, I prayed that they are in a better place".

Military officials said Palu's airport is expected to reopen for civilian traffic later on Thursday.


"We discovered eight bodies with the rescue team but we haven't been able to bring them out because we don't have the right equipment", said district police chief Andi Samsudin Effendy.

Indonesia was initially reluctant to accept outside help, insisting its own military could handle the response, but as the scale of the devastation became clear President Joko Widodo agreed to allow in foreign aid.

A report from Reuters cites a minister who leads the fiscal policy unit of the financial ministry of the Indonesian government stating that the country wants to be better prepared and make use of the available financial tools to help mitigate the costs of disaster and aid with recovery.

Indonesia sits along the Pacific "Ring of Fire", the world's most tectonically active region, and its 260 million people remain hugely vulnerable to earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions.


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