Indonesia Tsunami Toll Spikes, Mass Burial Planned

Number of dead doubles to 832, with many more unaccounted for
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 30, 2018 6:41 AM CDT

(Newser) – Rescue officials feared the full scale of Indonesia's earthquake and tsunami could climb far past the more than 800 already confirmed dead, reports the AP, as several large coastal towns remained cut off Sunday by damaged roads and downed communications. The country's disaster agency said the death toll more than doubled to 832, and nearly all of those were from the hard-hit city of Palu on the island of Sulawesi. The regencies of Donggala, Sigi, and Parigi Moutong—with combined populations of 1.2 million—had yet to be fully assessed. A mass burial will be held Sunday for health reasons. Bodies covered in blue and yellow tarps lined the streets of Palu, while rescuers dug through rubble in the hopes of finding survivors from the twin disasters that struck Friday evening.

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There was particular focus on the eight-story Roa-Roa Hotel, where voices from the rubble were heard calling for help Saturday. The cries had gone silent Sunday afternoon. Officials estimated some 50 people could be inside. Palu, which has more than 380,000 people, was strewn with debris. A heavily damaged mosque was half submerged and a shopping mall reduced to a crumpled hulk. Looters were stealing, apparently unconcerned about their safety, despite aftershocks and the mall's questionable stability. "The ground rose up like a spine and suddenly fell," said one survivor while crying. "Many people were ... buried under collapsed houses. I could do nothing to help. In the evening, some of them turned on their cellphones just to give a sign that they were there. But the lights were off later and the next day." (An early warning system that could have saved lives has been stalled for years.)

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