Palace: PH to assist quake-hit Indonesia

Body bags after Indonesia disaster

Indonesian soldiers have been ordered to fire on people caught looting on the quake and tsunami-struck island of Sulawesi, a colonel said Wednesday, after desperate survivors raided shops for food and water.

Hoax warnings have proliferated since the magnitude 7.5 quake and tsunami on Friday, and the national disaster agency has asked people to only rely on credible sources of information.

Last Friday, a powerful 7.4-magnitude natural disaster and tsunami hit Central Sulawesi, launching waves as high as six meters that slammed into the island at 800 kph. Local television said the man, the only foreigner known to have perished in the disaster, was a paraglider taking part in an event in the area.

The security minister, Wiranto, says efforts to retrieve bodies are problematic in parts of the hard-hit city of Palu, including the Balaroa and Petobo neighbourhoods, where the September 28 natural disaster caused loose soil to liquefy, causing hundreds of homes to be sucked into quicksand-like mud and burying possibly hundreds of victims.

No one knows how many people were dragged to their deaths in the roiling quagmire in Petobo and nearby areas south of Palu, which were particularly hard hit by liquefaction.

Communication links are down and bridges and roads have been destroyed or blocked.

"I'm so disappointed. They said they would come with the heavy machines but they didn't".

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However, global efforts to help are gearing up, after the government overcame a traditional reluctance to take foreign aid.

Haq told reporters at United Nations headquarters in NY that water is the main issue because most of the water supply infrastructure has been damaged.

Doctors said many patients have been at high risk of infection because they were buried in mud.

"We pray for the ones who have died and for those yet to be found", the imam said. He said he believes his son, who was praying at the time when the disaster struck, has gone to heaven.

"There is always hope", said the group's president Philippe Besson.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said military transport aircraft from India and Singapore had arrived to help in the relief efforts, including transporting supplies and evacuating victims. Officials on the ground said that while the govt was now inviting offers of help, there is still no "mechanism for this to be implemented". We sent out three teams, on different routes, with as many supplies as they could carry to ensure we could reach people as fast as we could but the journey has taken days.

"This is really a challenging and hard time for Indonesia and for all of us, but we are united and we stand strong and we are confident of withstanding this hard time", he told a briefing of the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club on Wednesday evening.

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