The Indonesian government will on Friday call off national search efforts for victims of September earthquake and tsunami, the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) said on Thursday.
“Two weeks after a 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck Central Sulawesi province, triggering a tsunami and soil liquefaction, 2,073, people were confirmed dead and 87,725 displaced,’’ BNPB spokesman Sutopo Nugroho said.
Nugroho added that its operations would continue until sundown on Friday
“The national search and rescue agency will hand over its task to the Palu city search and rescue agency and they will continue the work,’’ he noted.
The spokesman said that the latest data showed 680 people were still unaccounted for after their houses were swallowed by torrents of mud in a process called liquefaction.
“We still can’t determine the number of people missing as we are still compiling the data,’’ he added.
Nugroho denied reports that the Indonesian government refused to accept help from international volunteers and humanitarian aid offered by non-governmental organisations that travelled to Palu.
He added there were 14 foreigners, who had been denied entry to Palu because they were not partnered with a local NGO to work in Indonesia’s disaster areas.
He said they did not have items needed for the affected communities as requested by the Indonesian government, such as power generators and water treatment.
“International volunteers who have finished their work in Palu and didn’t have those items or qualifications to operate that equipment, have been requested to leave Palu immediately,’’ Nugroho said.