Indonesia ends grim search for dead in quake-tsunami

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The United Nations has sought $50.5 million for immediate relief to help the quake-tsunami victims. (AFP)
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Members of the Indonesian special operations Mobile Brigade Corps patrol the Petobo neighborhood hit by the earthquake and liquefaction in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, on Thursday. (Reuters )
Updated 12 October 2018
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Indonesia ends grim search for dead in quake-tsunami

  • The magnitude 7.5-quake and a subsequent tsunami razed swathes of the city of Palu on Sulawesi island on September 28
  • Indonesia initially refused international help, saying the military had the situation in hand

JAKARTA: The Indonesian government has extended by two weeks the emergency phase in earthquake-stricken areas of Sulawesi island in central Indonesia. Initially due to end today it will continue until Oct. 26, the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) revealed.

The government also decided to continue search efforts into today to recover bodies of victims of the 7.4-magnitude earthquake and the ensuing tsunami and landslides. The original plan was to end searches yesterday, worried that decomposing bodies could trigger diseases after two weeks buried under rubble.

“There were people who requested for the search and evacuation efforts to be extended for another day. But it will really have to end on Friday,” BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

He added that the joint national search and rescue team will still be looking for bodies of victims in full force throughout the day but will officially end its work by sundown.

The search efforts will be reduced to a smaller effort with Palu’s search and rescue agency handling the work in case there more bodies are retrieved.

The number of those confirmed dead in the two weeks since the Sept. 28 quake rose to 2,073. As many as 1,663 were from Palu while the rest were from neighboring districts of Donggala, Sigi, Parigi Moutong and West Sulawesi’s Pasangkayu district. All those confirmed dead have been buried, Nugroho said.

Palu, the provincial capital with a population of 367,000, was been greatly affected by the triple disaster, with 65,773 houses on its coastline swept away by the tsunami. Further inland residential areas have been reduced to rubble.

Nugroho said the number of people still unaccounted for remains in the hundreds with the official figure given as 652 in Palu out of the overall total of 680. It is estimated, however, that thousands will eventually be classified as missing.

Central Sulawesi Governor Longki Djanggola revealed that the government will turn the devastated Balaroa, Petobo and Jono Oge housing areas into open green spaces to serve as a memorial park for those killed.

As Indonesia recovered from the Palu quake, a powerful undersea quake with 6.3 magnitude shook Situbondo in East Java province at 01:57 a.m. yesterday, according to the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency.

The quake killed three people, with falling debris injuring a further eight, Nugroho said.

The jolt was felt in some parts of neighboring island of Bali, where global leaders and thousands of world’s top financiers, economists, and bankers are gathered in southeast of the island for annual meetings of International Money Fund and World Bank.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad are scheduled to take some time off their schedule in Bali to visit Palu this week.

“The quakes in Situbondo and Palu are not connected to each other because the faults that triggered them are different,” Nugroho said.

The Indonesian archipelago sits along on the Pacific Ring of Fire where tectonic plates meet and subduct, meaning it is a disaster-prone area with frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.


May to tell British parliament Brexit ‘95 percent’ settled, faces party mutiny

Updated 22 October 2018
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May to tell British parliament Brexit ‘95 percent’ settled, faces party mutiny

  • ‘Ninety-five percent of the Withdrawal Agreement and its protocols are now settled,’ according to a partial transcript released by her office
  • Talks have stalled over how to stop its land frontier with the Republic of Ireland, an EU member, becoming a hard border again

LONDON: Prime Minister Theresa May will tell Britain’s parliament on Monday that Brexit negotiations are “95 percent” complete but that she cannot accept the European Union’s Northern Ireland border proposals — as she faces down an increasingly mutinous faction within her own party.
May has been on the receiving end of a furious backlash from Brexit hardliners in her own party after indicating at an EU summit last week that she could accept a longer post-divorce implementation phase than previously envisaged.
Her shift aimed to break an impasse in negotiations between London and Brussels over how to keep the Irish border open after Brexit, by giving the two sides more time to agree their future relationship.
But it infuriated Brexiteer colleagues who fear remaining tied to the EU for years after Britain’s formal departure next March.
Several Sunday newspapers said rebellious MPs were preparing a fresh bid to topple her leadership this week, many carrying colorful off-record quotes from the plotters.
In a bid to calm passions, May will address MPs in the House of Commons on Monday where she will say the divorce deal with Brussels is nearly done.
“Ninety-five percent of the Withdrawal Agreement and its protocols are now settled,” she will tell parliamentarians, according to a partial transcript released by her office late Sunday.
Highlighting progress in the year-long talks, she will say agreements have now been reached across a broad range of issues including with Spain on the status of the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar, and with Cyprus on the UK’s military bases there.
“We have broad agreement on the structure and scope of the future relationship, with important progress made on issues like security, transport and services,” she will say.
But on Ireland she will seek to reassure MPs in her own party that she will not bow to the EU’s current proposals.
“As I set out last week, the original backstop proposal from the EU was one we could not accept, as it would mean creating a customs border down the Irish Sea and breaking up the integrity of the UK,” she will say.
“I do not believe that any UK Prime Minister could ever accept this. And I certainly will not.”
The so-called backstop is a proposal to keep either Northern Ireland or all of Britain in a customs union should future trade talks end in deadlock.
Talks have stalled over how to stop its land frontier with the Republic of Ireland, an EU member, becoming a hard border again.
London believes customs and other checks can be avoided through a new trade agreement with Brussels, but accepts the need for a fallback plan until that deal is agreed.
However, the two sides have so far been unable to settle the terms of this so-called backstop.
France’s Europe minister Nathalie Loiseau told the BBC Sunday that the bloc needs “definitive answers, or at least no temporary measures which disappear and we don’t know what to do afterwards.”
Despite voting in favor of a split from Europe, the British public remain deeply polarized on Brexit.
On Saturday more than half a million anti-Brexit protesters hit the streets of London, the largest demonstration since 750,000 people showed up against the Iraq war in 2003.