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.


Canada says China has granted consular access to second detainee

In this file photo taken on January 13, 2014, Michael Spavor walks with former US basketball player Dennis Rodman (not in picture) as they are surrounded by the media after arriving at Beijing International Airport from North Korea. (AFP)
Updated 4 min 50 sec ago
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Canada says China has granted consular access to second detainee

  • US prosecutors accuse Meng of misleading multinational banks about Iran-linked transactions, putting the banks at risk of violating US sanctions

OTTAWA: Canadian diplomats received consular access on Sunday to the second of two men detained by China over the past week, Canada’s foreign ministry said in a statement that gave few details.
John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to Beijing, met Michael Spavor, the statement said. Spavor and Michael Kovrig were both picked up after Canada arrested a senior Chinese executive on a US extradition request.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — who said on Friday the detentions were unacceptable — told CTV his government was taking the situation very seriously.
“We have engaged with the Chinese officials to determine what exactly conditions are they being detained under? Why are they being detained?” he said in an interview aired on Sunday. McCallum met Kovrig for the first time in Friday.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday that China should free the two men.
Spavor, a businessman, and Kovrig, a former diplomat, were detained after Canadian police arrested Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, on Dec 1.
US prosecutors accuse Meng of misleading multinational banks about Iran-linked transactions, putting the banks at risk of violating US sanctions. Meng, who is the daughter of Huawei’s founder, has said she is innocent.
China has demanded Canada free Meng and threatened unspecified consequences if it does not.
On Monday, influential state-back newspaper the Global Times said in an editorial that an escalation in the spat with Canada could be coming.
“In the struggle with Canada, China needs to prepare for the possibility of conflict escalation,” it said.
“Beijing must take the contest seriously and maximize the support of international public opinion, leaving Western media no smear to slander its counterattacks as ‘degradation of China’s opening-up.’“
Trudeau told CTV that Canada would continue trying to build up trading ties with China.
“We need to do so in a way that is true to our values and stands up for Canadians’ interests, and getting that balance right is complex. (It) has been made more difficult by recent trends,” he said.