Quake survivor in Indonesia hopes turn to search for dead bodies

Wearing masks to ward off the stench of death, Indonesian soldiers trudge over mountains of mud and concrete, moving slowly as they poke and prod the wreckage.

Eight days after a quake-tsunami disaster erased parts of Palu on Sulawesi island, this is no longer a search for the living, but a collection of the dead.

They don’t have to look very hard.

Sergeant Syafaruddin, from an army unit in Makassar south of Palu, asks for a body bag.

He is standing near the remnants of an Islamic school, and two of his soldiers have emerged from the ditch with a body bag sagging in the middle.

The load is too light for a corpse — they say they found just the heads of two adults and a child.


“There are no survivors here. We just find bodies, everyday,” says Syafaruddin, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

There are no signs of life peeking from beneath this devastation in Balaroa, where a vast government housing complex was all but swallowed when the sheer force of the quake turned the earth into mud.

There are fears that vast numbers of decomposing bodies could still be buried beneath this once-thriving neighbourhood, perhaps 1,000 or more.

The twin disasters are already known to have killed more than 1,500 people, and counting.


This article has been posted by a News Hour Correspondent. For queries, please contact through [email protected]
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