Disease fears as more bodies found in Indonesia disaster

UK and Indonesian Aid being loaded onto an RAF A400M aircraft in Jakarta Indonesia bound for Balikpapan to be distributed to the earthquake and tsunami hit island of Sulawesi. Friday

Indonesian rescue workers will stop searching for the bodies of victims of an quake and tsunami on the island of Sulawesi on Thursday, the national disaster mitigation agency said on Sunday.

"They are in great need because the road is cut off and it's accessible only by air", Second Lieutenant Reinaldo Apri said after piloting a helicopter to rugged Lindu district, some 40 kilometres south of Palu.

A team of French rescue experts began hunting through a huge expanse of debris on the outskirts of the Indonesian city of Palu yesterday, looking for hands, feet or any body parts of natural disaster victims sticking out of the mud. "There are so many corpses around here", said Irwan, 37, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

A woman cries after learning that her daughter was one of those buried at a mass grave after being recovered in the massive quake and tsunami at Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018.

Hundreds of Muslim survivors in the Indonesian city of Palu have gathered at shattered mosques for Friday prayers, seeking strength to rebuild their lives a week after a powerful natural disaster and tsunami killed more than 1,500 people.

"Based on reports from village chiefs in Balaroa and Petobo, some 5,000 people have not been found".

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Nugroho said the debris would be removed from those places and they would be turned into public spaces like parks and sports venues.

"We don't want the community to be relocated to such unsafe places", Nugroho said.

At the flattened Hotel Roa-Roa - where early optimism that survivors might be found faded as the days wore on and tropical heat intensified - search teams also prepared body bags.

"We don't agree with giving up". "They erupted in cheers and gave a thumbs-up sign before we took off". "We have to be very careful to avoid contamination", Mr Yusuf Latif, a spokesman for Indonesia's search and rescue effort, told AFP.

A grieving father was resigned to the search ending without his two-year-old daughter being found. "At this stage, they're not even recognizable", said Ondre, 38, who makes toys for a living.

Thousands of those still missing are thought to be from the towns of Baleroa and Petobo, which was swept away following the 7.5 magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami last month, leaving mass destruction in its wake.

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"I don't want her to feel like her father never tried to find her".

As the sun set, a mass prayer ceremony was held by Palu's seafront that was scoured by the tsunami.

Indonesia sits along the Pacific "Ring of Fire", the world's most tectonically active region, and its 260 million people are vulnerable to earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions. The archipelago sees frequent earthquakes and occasional tsunami. Almost a week after a magnitude 7.5 quake spawned a deadly tsunami on Indonesia's island of Sulawesi, countless people have yet to find their loved ones _ both survivors and the dead.

"It's quite sad and devastating for me", said Christma Nathali.

Jono Oge was hit hard by liquefaction with dozens of teenagers at a nearby church and Bible camp killed.

There are fears that vast numbers of decomposing bodies could be buried beneath Petobo and Balaroa - two areas virtually wiped off the map - and authorities have warned survivors to steer clear as they brace for more macabre discoveries.

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