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Search for Indonesia tsunami survivors set to be called off

Picture: DEC
Picture: DEC
Promoted by DEC

The total number of deaths following the Indonesian tsunami is unlikely to be known after authorities announced the search for survivors is being called off.

The search operation will be brought to an end tomorrow (Thursday) with anyone unaccounted for presumed dead. Two particularly badly affected areas in Balaroa and Petobo will be designated as mass graves and left untouched.

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The full impact of the devastating earthquake and tsunami, which also triggered many landslides, is only now emerging. It has been confirmed that 1.5 million people have been affected by the disaster, and 200,000 people are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, about a quarter of whom are children.

Over 67,000 homes have reportedly been damaged and as many as 1,000 villages are believed to have been destroyed or severely damaged.

More than 2,700 schools have been damaged; hospitals, bridges, places of worship and shopping malls have been damaged or have collapsed. Power and communication lines were brought down, many roads made impassable, and some airports were forced out of action, hampering search and rescue and relief efforts.

Power has been restored in some parts of Palu however, fuel is in short supply and vehicles, generators and water pumps are unable to run.

People in Palu report having to queue for up to two hours to access water while shops and markets remain largely closed.

Hari Sutjahyono, 39, said he planned to rebuild his home:

"The earthquake happened so quickly, when the earthquake my wife immediately rescued our daughter Afikah aged 2 and immediately left the house

"All my family survived. It's just that my house was badly damaged and only the bathroom didn't collapse. In the future we will rebuild on the same land because there is no other choice, only this land we have.

"For the time being our urgent needs are food and drinking water, it's just that I still need special needs in the form of baby milk and diapers for my child. We have already received some assistance from neighbours and also NGOs but still lacking."