Light for Palu

The aftermath of the double natural disaster looms large as aid trickles in, but there is much work still to be done.

08 October 2018 | International

Aid poured into disaster-ravaged Palu on Sunday after days of delays, as efforts ramped up to reach 200 000 people in desperate need following a deadly quake-tsunami in the Indonesian city.

Planeloads of food, clean water and other essentials were landing with increasing frequency at Palu on Sulawesi island, where a powerful earthquake and a wall of water levelled parts of the region and killed at least 1 763 people, officials said Sunday.

Looters ransacked shops in the aftermath of the disaster more than a week ago, as food and water ran dry and convoys bringing life-saving relief were slow to arrive.

But the trickle of international aid to Palu and local efforts to help the survivors have accelerated in recent days.

Daisy chains of troops unloaded supplies directly onto trucks for distribution to villages around Palu or helicopters for delivery further afield.

More than 82 000 military and civilian personnel, as well as volunteers, have descended on the devastated city, while Indonesian army choppers are running missions to deliver supplies to remote parts of the region that were previously blocked off by the disaster.

“They are in great need because the road is cut off and it's accessible only by air”, Second Lieutenant Reinaldo Apri told AFP after piloting a chopper to the rugged Lindu district, some 40km south of Palu.

Tonnes of donations from Australia and the United States reached Palu on Sunday morning aboard Hercules military aircraft. A plane chartered by Save the Children also landed with emergency shelter and water purification kits, as did another carrying a medical team from South Africa.

Teams of Indonesian Red Cross workers set up warehouses and fanned out to distribute supplies across the region, where the double-punch disaster reduced entire neighbourhoods to rubble.

But relief workers face a monumental task ahead.

Getting vital supplies to affected areas has proved hugely challenging, with only a limited number of flights able to land at Palu's small airport, forcing aid workers to take gruelling overland journeys.

The tens of thousands left homeless by the disaster are scattered across Palu and beyond, many squatting outside their ruined homes or bunkered down in makeshift camps and entirely dependent on handouts to survive.

“There is nowhere else to get food, nowhere is open,” said 18-year-old Sela Fauziah in Palu's central market, where she queued with hundreds for essential food items being distributed by soldiers.

Things are even more desperate in remoter areas.

As a helicopter touched down in the jungle-covered mountains and ravines of Lindu, villagers rushed to grab boxes of noodles and bags of rice and oil.

The few minutes on the ground was enough time for Simsom Mudju, 49, to jump aboard with his young son, tasked with telling the outside world about the marooned community's plight.

“I am coming to Palu to report that we need tents, because 95% of our village has been destroyed,” he said.

In difficult terrain outside Palu, chopper pilots can only land in villages with football fields and must compete with strong winds and rain, Apri said.

Hospitals are still overstretched and short on staff and bare essentials.

“At the moment we still have medicine, but we really need drinking water for the patients and paramedics,” doctor Achmad Yudha, from Anutapura Hospital in Palu, told AFP.

Medical teams have not even reached some of the hardest-hit far-flung villages, despite more than a week lapsing since the quake.

“Today, my team and I want to go to Sigi, because that area has been untouched by paramedics,” doctor Arsanto Tri Widodo told AFP, referring to one of the worst-hit areas.

Even as aid reached the region, exhausted survivors were heading in the opposite direction.

Thousands have streamed out of Palu to nearby cities since the quake, many waiting days to board military flights.

Anam was among 100 civilians at Palu airport lucky enough to board a Hercules military flight on Sunday.

“I am happy to finally get a plane. I have been waiting for three days,” the 33-year-old told AFP.

Hope of finding survivors has all but faded, as authorities moved closer to calling off the search for the dead and declaring devastated areas mass graves.

“This is day ten. It would be a miracle to actually find someone still alive,” Muhammad Syaugi, the head of Indonesia's search and rescue agency told AFP.


Similar News


Sri Lanka reinstates ousted PM

2 days ago - 17 December 2018 | International

Sri Lanka's president yesterday reappointed as prime minister the same man he sacked from the job nearly two months ago, ending a messy power struggle...

Trump's life under probe

2 days ago - 17 December 2018 | International

Investigations now entangle Donald Trump's White House, campaign, transition, inauguration, charity and business. For Trump, the political, the personal and the deeply personal are all...

Brokering peace for Syria

1 week ago - 11 December 2018 | International

Following eight years of civil war with more than 400 000 dead in Syria, the ninth round of Astana talks between Turkey, Russia, Iran and...

Weather conundrum in Oz

3 weeks ago - 26 November 2018 | International

Dust storms, raging bushfires, gale-force winds, heat waves, thunder and snow, flash flooding and driving rain - Australia is enduring a bout of wild weather...

Voluntary colonialism anyone?

3 weeks ago - 26 November 2018 | International

Vountary colonialism: That's the solution a German minister has offered to end migration from Africa to Europe. The proposal calls for foreign powers to acquire...

'There is no Chinese debt trap'

4 weeks ago - 19 November 2018 | International

The Chinese embassy in Windhoek has responded to allegations that a Namibian delegation, led by President Hage Geingob in March this year, had travelled to...

Ebola kills 200

1 month - 12 November 2018 | International

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is facing its worst Ebola outbreak in the country's recorded history, health officials have said.The announcement late on Friday...

At least 61 killed in clashes in Yemen's Hodeida

1 month - 12 November 2018 | International

At least 61 combatants have been killed in clashes in Yemen's flashpoint Hodeida, medics and a military source said Sunday, and dozens of wounded taken...

Indonesian Lion Air plane crashes into sea with 189...

1 month - 29 October 2018 | International

A brand new Indonesian Lion Air plane carrying 189 passengers and crew crashed into the sea today, officials said, moments after it had asked to...

Bolsonaro widens lead

1 month - 22 October 2018 | International

Barring any last-minute upset, Brazil appears poised to elect Jair Bolsonaro, a populist far-right veteran politician, as its next president in a week's time.His lead...

Latest News

Police divers search for drowning...

1 day - 18 December 2018 | Crime

Police divers are searching for the bodies of four girls - aged 13, 15, 16 and 17 - who drowned in the Orange River on...

Support your child

1 day - 18 December 2018 | Columns

For many thousands of young Namibians, who wrote their grade 10 and matric examinations this year, it is a time of great uncertainty, as they...

PDM embarrassed by govt

1 day - 18 December 2018 | Politics

The Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) says 2018 was an embarrassing year, as government leaders failed to address rising labour, social and economic problems. PDM...

Iilonga to be buried in...

1 day - 18 December 2018 | People

President Hage Geingob has accorded liberation veteran, politician and unionist Petrus Iilonga a state funeral.In a media statement, the presidency announced that Iilonga would be...

Mujoro 'excited' about DRC EVMs

1 day - 18 December 2018 | Politics

With elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) slated for 23 December, Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) chief electoral officer Theo Mujuro is currently...

Litterbugs beware

1 day - 18 December 2018 | Environment

Littering and other environmental damage will not be tolerated in Namibia's national parks and protected areas this festive season. The environment ministry, together with the...

Van der Westhuizen tops

1 day - 18 December 2018 | Sports

An 80-year-old golfer, Piet van der Westhuizen, was recently crowned as the winner of the Bank Windhoek Senior Open Golf Championship that took place in...

Legends turn on Mourinho

1 day - 18 December 2018 | Sports

Jose Mourinho came under fire from Manchester United legends after his side's dismal display in a 3-1 defeat at Liverpool that underlined just how far...

Magic to tango with Julinho

1 day - 18 December 2018 | Sports

Tura Magic will clash with Julinho Sporting tonight in the 2018/19 Namibia Premier League (NPL).The match will take place at the Sam Nujoma Stadium at...

Load More