Death toll in Indonesia M7.5 earthquake, tsunami rises to 1,234

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Indonesia’s disaster agency says the death toll from an earthquake and tsunami disaster on a central island is now 1,234.

Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho updated the figure at a news conference in Jakarta on Tuesday afternoon.

The magnitude 7.5 earthquake and the tsunami it generated struck Palu and nearby areas on central Sulawesi island last Friday.

Nugroho said 799 people are severely injured. He said the communities of Sigi and Balaroa have not been counted yet, meaning the toll is likely to rise.

Donggala and other outlying areas have received little assistance largely due to impassable roads.

Desperation was visible everywhere among victims receiving little aid. In Palu, signs propped along roads read “We Need Food” and “We Need Support,” while children begged for cash in the streets and long lines of cars snarled traffic as people waited for fuel.

Teams were searching for trapped survivors under destroyed homes and buildings, including a collapsed eight-story hotel in the city, but they needed more heavy equipment to clear the rubble.

Many people were believed trapped under shattered houses in Balaroa, where the earthquake caused the ground to heave up and down violently, Nugroho said.

“I and about 50 other people in Balaroa were able to save ourselves by riding on a mound of soil which was getting higher and higher,” resident Siti Hajat told MetroTV, adding her house was destroyed.

In the Petobo neighborhood, the quake caused loose, wet soil to liquefy, creating a thick, heavy mud that resulted in massive damage. “In Petobo, it is estimated that there are still hundreds of victims buried in mud,” Nugroho said.

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