Indonesia quake, tsunami: Aid reaches remote areas

Jakarta: Relief aid started arriving in the more remote areas of Sulawesi island in Indonesia following last week’s magnitude-7.5 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that left at least 1,500 people dead, the Red Cross said on Saturday.

Assistance was being provided by local authorities and non-governmental organisations in Donggala and other cut off areas such as Sigi, Red Cross spokesperson, Iris Van Deinse, told Efe news.

On Friday, the Red Cross distributed tarpaulins to 1,000 families in Donggala and Balaroa, one of the worst affected parts of Palu, the provincial capital, and where Red Cross has seven operating water trucks, Van Deinse added.

A Red Cross helicopter and several others belonging to the Indonesian army were flying to inaccessible areas to provide food and basic supplies.

Work on restoring the power supply to affected areas was ongoing.

Six of the seven damaged electric sub-stations have been repaired and 70 per cent of power has been restored with the support of 46 generators, a member of the local non-profit ACT said after a coordination meeting with authorities.

In Palu, banks and businesses have reopened and the chaos surrounding the distribution of food, water and gasoline during the initial aftermath of the disaster, which led to dozens of arrests of looters, has lifted thanks to the arrival of several national organizations, political parties and other groups helping in the recovery effort.

Bodies were still being removed from the worst affected areas, such as the village of Petobo – about 7 km south-east of Palu – and Balaroa, where NGO workers estimate more than 1,000 people could still be buried.

The official death toll rose on Friday to 1,571, while the number of injured jumped to 2,549 with 152 still missing. More than 70,000 people have been displaced.

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