The death toll from an earthquake and tsunami that devastated Indonesia’s Sulawesi island has surpassed 2,000, authorities said Tuesday, as rescuers kept searching for thousands of other victims feared buried in mud.
At least 671 were listed as missing, but many more people have been buried when houses in three villages – Balaroa, Petobo and Jono Oge – were swallowed in mud and rubble caused by the quake on Sept. 28, the National Disaster Management Agency said.
“According to the chiefs of Balaroa and Petobo villages, there are about 5,000 people who have not been found. But this still needs verification,” agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.
At least 2,000 houses in the villages were sucked under by torrents of mud when the magnitude 7.4 quake generated a process called liquefaction, where water-logged soil is turned into quicksand, officials said.
Local TV news footage on Tuesday showed volunteers using hydraulic jackhammers to break up concrete while others clawed through debris in search of bodies in a former residential area.
But recovering the remains of missing residents whose bodies were in an advanced state of decomposition could lead to outbreaks of infectious disease, officials warned.
Full story: BenarNews
Palu, Indonesia. Ahmad Syamsudin in Jakarta contributed to this story.
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