The bodies of 1,203 victims claimed by the catastrophic tsunami and earthquake have been stacked side-by-side and covered in dirt and rubble in a 100-meter (328-foot) mass grave in Indonesia.
The death toll is expected to climb as thousands more are feared to be buried under the mud after the quake, The Sun reports.
Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency chief Willem Rampangilei noted that the mass grave dug in Palu will be enlarged if needed. Authorities have prioritized the immediate burial of the dead to prevent any disease outbreak caused by decomposing bodies.
Last Friday, waves up to 20 feet high crashed onto the shoreline of Palu, on the island of Sulawesi, where thousands had gathered for a beach festival.
According to National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the 7.5-magnitude quake resulted in “soil liquefaction,” a phenomenon in which severe shaking from a powerful earthquake can turn earth into mud.
This is very scary. Land become weakness, become a mud and moving all around to the lower place. Moving very fast as a landslide with hundreds meters from its origin during 7.4 magnitude earthquake in Sigi near Palu. #PrayForPalu #PrayForDonggala #PrayForSulteng #PrayForSulawesi pic.twitter.com/fyVt8VCqcu
— Anggunesia (@Anggunesia) September 29, 2018
“The death is believed to be still increasing since many bodies were still under the wreckage while many have not been able to be reached,” Nugroho was quoted as saying.
Hundreds of people are still reported missing in the city, while about 2,000 people from villages further inland may have also died due to the mudslides in the area.
As if this writing, the agency has recorded 540 injured people and more than 16,000 others who have been displaced, according to the Jakarta Post.
Meanwhile, some 1,200 inmates have reportedly escaped from at least three prisons in the region.
About 1,400 personnel consisting of military, police and civilian volunteers are conducting rescue efforts in Palu and Donggala.
Damaged roads and telecommunication channels have disrupted the distribution of aid and supplies in some areas.
Some desperate survivors have resorted to looting shops for basic necessities while police watched without intervening.
“There has been no aid, we need to eat. We don’t have any other choice, we must get food,” one survivor in Palu told Agence France-Presse.
After touring the devastated area on Sunday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo tweeted: “Grieve for the people of Central Sulawesi, we all grieve together.”
Widodo has since opened the door to international aid agencies and NGOs, which have offered to provide assistance to the victims.
Last night, President @jokowi authorized us to accept international help for urgent disaster-response & relief. I’m helping coordinate help from private sectors from around the world. Pls message me at my social media accounts or email: [email protected]#PaluTsunami #PALUDONGGALA
— Tom Lembong (@tomlembong) October 1, 2018
“Last night, President @jokowi authorized us to accept international help for urgent disaster-response & relief,” senior government official Tom Lembong wrote on Twitter.
Featured Image via YouTube / CBS Evening News