Indonesian city's recovery to take 2 years, search nears end
A man inspects the wreckage of vehicles inside a building at the tsunami-ravaged area in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. A 7.5 magnitude earthquake rocked Central Sulawesi province on Sept. 28, triggering a tsunami and mudslides that killed a large number of people and displaced tens of thousands of others. (Dita Alangkara/Associated Press) October 11 at 8:01 AM
PALU, Indonesia â" The rebuilding of an Indonesian city shattered by an earthquake and tsunami will take two years, a disaster official said Thursday, as the search for victims buried in obliterated neighborhoods neared its end.
The national disaster agencyâs spokesman, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, told a news conference that the official search and rescue effort was extended by a day and would end Friday.
âBecause of the demands of the residents to lengthen the search for victims, we have extended the search and evacuation process for one day,â he said.
Officials plan prayers in areas such as Balaroa, Petobo and Jono Oge where the force of the Sept. 28 quake liquefied soft soil and tore apart neighborhoods.
Assessments of the cost of reconstruction are still being carried out, Nugroho said.
âJudging the conditions now, the reconstruction period will be from 2019 to 2020,â he said. âWe expect full recovery by 2021.â
The agency said the official death toll had risen to 2,073 as of Thursday, with most of the fatalities in Palu.
Officially, 680 people are missing but officials have acknowledged the number could be several thousand because hundreds of homes were sucked into the earth.
Save the Childrenâs affiliated organization in Indonesia said there could be as many as 1,500 children missing.
Selina Sumbung, the organizationâs chief, said the end of the search mission is accepted with a âheavy heart.â
âChildren are particularly vulnerable in disasters, and to think that so many will never have the chance to grow up is heart breaking,â she said in a statement.
Central Sulawesi Gov. Longki Djanggola said the disaster relief period, due to expire on Saturday, was extended by two weeks to Oct. 26.
Firefighters, soldiers and other personnel searched the rubble Thursday in a last push to find victims. They also burned debris and excavators dug into the tangled remains of buildings.
Heavy equipment hasnât been able to operate in neighborhoods where the earth turned to mud, hampering the search effort, and many bodies have decomposed beyond recognition due to the tropical heat.
Miles (kilometers) of coastline were trashed by the tsunami that followed the quake, with hous es swept off their foundations, trucks crumpled and numerous ships beached.
Jatmiko reported from Jakarta, Indonesia.
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