Indonesia death toll could rise drastically, as aid starts to arrive

More than a thousand people could still be missing after Indonesia’s devastating quake-tsunami, officials said on Friday, drastically increasing the number of people unaccounted for a week after the disaster.

Palu city on Sulawesi island has been left in ruins after it was hit by a powerful quake and a wall of water which razed whole neighbourhoods, with the official death toll now 1,571.

The number of confirmed missing stands at more than 100, but fears are growing that vast numbers of people have been buried in a massive government housing complex at Balaroa, where the sheer force of the quake turned the earth temporarily to mush.

"Maybe more than 1,000 people are still missing," Yusuf Latif, a spokesman for Indonesia’s search and rescue agency, told AFP.

"But we still cannot be sure because there’s a possibility that some people managed to get out."

After days of delays, international aid is slowly making its way to the disaster zone, where the UN says almost 200,000 people need humanitarian assistance.

An RAF A400M Atlas aircraft has successfully delivered 17.5 tonnes of UK aid supplies to the international relief centre at Balikpapan, which is the humanitarian operational hub for the affected region.

An Indonesian police unit searches for victims in Palu, in Indonesia's Central Sulawesi on October 5, 2018, following the September 28 earthquake and tsunami.Credit:

 In addition, the UK Government has also announced it will match pound-for-pound the first £2 million raised by the British public to the Indonesia Tsunami Appeal launched on October 4 by the Disasters Emergency Committee.

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