Roundup: Indonesia plans to build mass grave monument in Palu's devastated village

Monday, 2018-10-08 17:31:19
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Search and Rescue team members search for victims at Balaroa, in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. Oct. 3, 2018. (Photo: Xinhua)
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The Indonesian government is planning to build a mass grave monument in western Palu's devastated village of Balaroa as chances to retrieve more bodies from muds mixed with debris of houses are running slim.

The Balaroa village was sucked down into the earth due to liquefaction following the 7.4-magnitude earthquake that hit the Central Sulawesi's provincial capital of Palu on September 28.

The quake has made soil beneath the village liquefying, eventually sucking all houses and buildings above, burying alive the occupants.

Indonesia Coordinating Minister for Political, Security and Legal Affairs Wiranto said that the option to end the search and build a mass grave monument in Balaroa had already been consulted with local government and religious figures.

The Indonesian National Disaster Mitigation Agency has announced that the search and evacuation of bodies would be called off on Thursday, October 11.

"If the search takes too long time, it would be not good for the people there. They might get sick from diseases (generated from the site)," Wiranto said.

The other thing that leads up to the option was the risk for the searching activities as the muddy ground remained unstable and could drag down the excavators below the ground.

Indonesia's National Search and Rescue Agency estimated earlier that at least 1,000 residents of the village were buried along with their houses deep in the ground.

The figure came up from the estimated 1,000 houses affected by the liquefaction in the village, according to the agency.

Wiranto said the government expected to complete the rehabilitation and reconstruction projects in the provinces' earthquake and tsunami-affected areas within two years.

He also said that the government would build temporary houses for families for those losing their houses from the disaster. "Those houses were for temporary use before we build permanent houses for them," he added.

The multiple disasters in the province have severely damaged infrastructure, power and telecommunication networks, public houses as well as government buildings.

The situation was worsened by the looting of stores, supermarkets and banks due to the lack of food and supplies, eventually paralyzing the economy in the city in the aftermath of the disasters.

Indonesian foreign ministry said that the government has received fund assistance commitments conveyed by several foreign countries to help Indonesia in dealing with efforts to mitigate impacts of the disasters.

Deputy Foreign Minister Abdurrachman Mohammad Fachir said that besides funds, the foreign assistances were also offered in the form of supplies and equipment.

Fachir said the foreign fund assistance would possibly be allocated to finance the rehabilitation and reconstruction projects in the affected areas.

Apart from the fund assistance, Indonesia also received aircraft assistance commitments from foreign countries. Indonesian Air Forces Commander Marshall Yuyu Sutisna said that 23 foreign planes would assist in delivery of supplies to Palu airport.

They will fly those supplies from Jakarta and Balikpapan, and were expected to accelerate delivery process of those supplies. Of those committed planes 10 have already in service as of Saturday (October 6), he added.

On October 7, Indonesian authorities said that death toll recorded from the retrieved bodies had risen to 1,944, while 2,549 people were being treated in hospitals.

The multiple disasters have displaced over 62,000 people, who are currently being sheltered in 147 locations, the Indonesian National Disaster Mitigation Agency said.