Scots charities help rescuers as Indonesian quake toll hits 832

Rescuers help a traumatised survivor from a damaged house in the city of Palu in central Sulawesi yesterday after the earthquake and tsunami struck in Indonesia 'on Friday. Picture: AP Photo/Arimacs Wilander
Rescuers help a traumatised survivor from a damaged house in the city of Palu in central Sulawesi yesterday after the earthquake and tsunami struck in Indonesia 'on Friday. Picture: AP Photo/Arimacs Wilander
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Scottish charities are working to help the rescue effort in Indonesia as officials warned that the death toll of Friday’s tsunami and earthquake could climb far beyond the current figure of 832.

Charities including Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund have joined efforts from around the world to offer help to rescue workers battling against the impact of the double disaster.

The death toll is believed to be still increasing since many bodies were still under the wreckage, while many have not been reached

SUTOPO PURWO NUGROHO
OF THE DISASTER AGENCY

Indonesia’s disaster agency said yesterday that the death toll had more than doubled to 832, with nearly all of those in the hard-hit city of Palu on the island of Sulawesi.

However, the regencies of Donggala, Sigi and Parigi Moutong – which have a combined population of 1.2 million – had yet to be fully assessed.

“The death toll is believed to be still increasing since many bodies were still under the wreckage, while many have not been reached,” said disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho. He said a mass burial of bodies which had been found would be held yesterday.

Bodies covered in blue and yellow tarpaulins lined the streets of Palu, while rescuers dug through rubble in the hope of finding survivors from the twin disasters.

SCIAF said it was working with its sister agency in the country to which it had sent £20,000.

Meanwhile, Edinburgh’s Mercy Corps said its Indonesia team members were “monitoring the situation” and was likely to decide today if it will formally respond.

Fife-based International Rescue said it had not yet sent any rescue workers but added that it was also watching events closely.

Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo toured Palu yesterday.

“There are many challenges,” he said. “We have to do many things soon, but conditions do not allow us to do so.”

Rescue workers yesterday tried to uncover victims from Palu’s eight-storey Roa-Roa Hotel, where voices from under the rubble could be heard calling out for help on Saturday.

The cries from beneath the hotel, which appeared to have toppled over with its walls splintered like pick-up sticks, had gone silent by yesterday afternoon. Officials had estimated that 50 people could be inside.

“We are trying our best. Time is so important here to save people,” said Muhammad Syaugi, head of the national search and rescue team. “Heavy equipment is on the way.”

SCIAF director Alistair Dutton said: “I’m deeply concerned to see the news of deaths, injuries and destruction following the terrible tsunami which has hit Palu city in Indonesia.

“We in SCIAF have already released £20,000 and are contacting our partner, Caritas Indonesia, to determine what more we can do to help.” He added: “My thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost loved ones and are now left to pick up the pieces and rebuild their lives.”

A total of 61 foreigners were in Palu at the time of the disaster.

Most of them had been accounted for, but one South Korean was believed to be trapped in the ruins of the Roa-Roa Hotel, while three others from France and one from Malaysia were missing.

The survivors were to be evacuated to the Sulawesi city of Makassar in the island’s far south.

The magnitude 7.5 earthquake, which was followed by a tsunami with 10ft waves, is the latest natural disaster to hit Indonesia, which is frequently struck by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis because of its location on the “ring of fire,” an arc of volcanoes and faultlines in the Pacific Basin.