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.

NAMPA/AFP

Similar News

 

It must be win-win, Mr Ambassador - Venaani

1 week ago - 12 February 2019 | International

Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) leader McHenry Venaani says there is a need for an overhaul of China-Namibia relations, so that Namibia benefits as an equal...

SADC breaks silence on Zim

1 week ago - 12 February 2019 | International

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has finally made a statement on the situation in Zimbabwe, which is experiencing a crumbling economy, human rights violations...

Humanitarian aid used as weapon in Maduro-Guaido conflict

1 week ago - 11 February 2019 | International

Desperately needed aid being stockpiled at Venezuela's door is at the heart of a political duel between the two men fighting to lead the oil-rich...

Quiet diplomacy is not working

2 weeks ago - 05 February 2019 | International

SADC's quiet diplomacy is not helping the situation in Zimbabwe and the regional body must publicly condemn the human rights violations and address the legitimacy...

Guaido vs Maduro

2 weeks ago - 04 February 2019 | International

Buoyed by the defection of a top general, Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido predicted Saturday the month of February would be “decisive” in determining the...

El Chapo drugged and raped teenage girls, witness claims

2 weeks ago - 04 February 2019 | International

A witness in the trial of Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman told the US government the Mexican drug kingpin drugged and raped girls as young as...

Namibia backs Maduro

3 weeks ago - 30 January 2019 | International

The Namibian government is concerned about political developments in Venezuela and has called on the international community to allow the people of Venezuela to handle...

Stand-off in Caracas

3 weeks ago - 28 January 2019 | International

The United States pressed all nations to “stand with the forces of freedom” in Venezuela, encouraged by a tougher European line as Russia stood in...

'We would rather die in Namibia'

4 weeks ago - 23 January 2019 | International

A group of Zimbabwean nationals living in Namibia, who were initially excited about the toppling of long-time president Robert Mugabe in 2017, say they have...

China population reaches 1.395 billion

4 weeks ago - 22 January 2019 | International

China's population rose by 15.23 million people in 2018, marking a continued decrease in the growth rate of the world's most populous nation.Numbers released by...

Latest News

Boyfriend appears for Unam student's...

13 hours ago | Justice

Paulus Nghipulenga (27) has appeared in the Oshakati Magistrate's Court for the murder of his girlfriend on Sunday evening at Ongwediva. She was...

Shaningwa humbled

13 hours ago | Politics

The Swapo leadership has ordered Swapo secretary-general Sophia Shaningwa to halt the recall of three Swapo councillors at Rundu, pending the outcome of a politburo...

First Lady enters shack fray

13 hours ago | Infrastructure

First Lady Monica Geingos has reached out to experts to bring their ideas on how to solve the housing crisis to the attention of policymakers....

Vehicle sales hit another speed...

13 hours ago | Economics

Jo-Maré Duddy – The 666 new vehicles that were sold in Namibia last month was the poorest January sales figure since 2006 and the lowest...

Marenica executes Namibian strategy

13 hours ago | Business

Jo-Maré Duddy - Marenica Energy Ltd has lodged nine exclusive prospecting licences (EPLs) with the ministry of mines and energy in Namibia over the past...

Africa Briefs

13 hours ago | Economics

SA needs to build confidence in power sectorSouth Africa needs to invest more to rebuild confidence in its ability to supply power, its energy minister...

Taxed to death

13 hours ago | Opinion

In their report titled ‘Quarterly Economics and Fixed Income 1Q 2019: What Lies Ahead in 2019?’, Simonis Storm Securities (SSS) said during recessions, among the...

TradePort gets manganese green light

13 hours ago | Environment

The environment ministry has issued TradePort Namibia, one of the South African companies planning to export manganese ore through the port of Lüderitz, an environmental...

Low Orange River threatens grape...

13 hours ago | Agriculture

The dangerously low water level of the Orange River could have a devastating impact on Namibia's production of table grapes, an important export product earning...

Load More