A look inside the search and rescue for Indonesia's tsunami survivors

Posted by On 4:40 PM

A look inside the search and rescue for Indonesia's tsunami survivors

It will take two years to rebuild the Indonesian city of Palu after it was devastated by an earthquake and tsunami on Sep. 28 that killed at least 2,000 people and injured at least 4,000 more, authorities say.

Search and rescue teams were originally given until Oct. 11 to find and retrieve bodies, but the search was extended by a day at the request of survivors. With as many as 5,000 people still missing, many fear their neighborhoods will be left as mass graves.

1539352953112-DSC_0395Three men stand on the remnants of a road and survey the area of Sigi, which was devastated by the Sep. 28 earthquake. Much of the area was swept away by a phenomenon known as liquefaction, when an earthquake causes soil to act like a liquid.(VICE News/Laurel Chor)

Authorities say that more than 67, 000 houses were destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami, leaving the fate of residents in question.

With the two-week state of emergency coming to a close, authorities are now turning their attention to cleaning up the city so that they can begin to rebuild it, said Longki Djanggola, the governor of Central Sulawesi, the province where Palu is located.

“There was once a similar disaster like this around 50 years ago, but it was not as huge, devastating or ruinous as this,” Governor Longki Djanggola said.

The event was so destructive, in part, because it led to a phenomenon known as “liquefaction,” in which soil begins to act like liquid â€" effectively swallowing up and sweeping away entire buildings. Communities were turned into swathes of debris and mud, hampering search and rescue teams that had to wait for heavy machinery to arrive in order to clear access.

1539353955463-Untitled-2Zainab Labungasa and her granddaughter take away some of the possessions they were able to recover from their destroyed homes in Balaroa, one of the worst-hit neighborhoods in Palu. (VICE News/Laurel Chor)

Those who were not evacuated by the military have been left to sleep in makeshift camps dotting the city.

Zainab Labungasa lived in Petobo, a neighborhood that was completely wiped out by the tsunami. She's been living in a camp since, waiting and wondering what's in store for her and her family.

“I'm just waiting for a new place to be given to me,” she told VICE News. ‘I don't know where they'll move me to. All we do is wait. Just wait.”

VICE News travelled to Palu to speak with rescue workers and survivors trying to recover after the devastating event.

1539356233347-10Ati sits in front of her home, one of the few structures that still stands in the neighborhood of Petobo. (VICE News/Laurel Chor) 1539356035390-9A mother holds her daughter in the destroyed neighborhood of Balaroa.(VICE News/Laurel Chor) 1539355905566-8An excavator searches for bodies in Petobo. (VICE News/Laurel Chor) 1539355140724-7An excavator unloads a body found by a search and rescue team in Petobo.(VICE News/Laurel Chor) 1539354749041-6Air force officers deliver aid to Donggala, an area that was largely cut off by the earthquake.(VICE News/Laurel Chor) 1539354573822-5The “flo ating mosque” of Palu was knocked off its pillars by the Sep. 28 tsunami. 1539354496360-4A man looks at a submerged vehicle while standing on the remains of a bridge destroyed by the Sep. 28 tsunami that hit Palu city.(VICE News/Laurel Chor) 1539354083249-2A search and rescue vehicle gets stuck in Petobo, which has been covered in mud after the earthquake.(VICE News/Laurel Chor) 1539354203965-3Military planes are packed with evacuees so tightly that there is only standing room.(VICE News/Laurel Chor)Source: Google News Indonesia | Netizen 24 Indonesia

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