Indonesian President Joko Widodo on October 3 paid his second visit to Central Sulawesi province.
(Photo: AFP/VNA)

Jakarta (VNA) – Indonesian President Joko Widodo on October 3 paid his second visit to Central Sulawesi province, which was severely damaged by recent earthquakes and tsunami, to ramp up aid efforts.

Six days after disasters struck, time is running out for anyone trapped under collapsed buildings while the survivors are facing dire shortage and many of them have been driven to the depth of despair.

Widodo urged competent authorities to accelerate search and rescue efforts, and committed to mobilising all resources of the government to rescue the victims, restore power supply, and evacuate people in dangerous areas. “We will continue this process so all the victims can be retrieved”, he said.

Spokesman of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) said that the death toll from the devastating earthquakes and subsequent tsunami that rocked Sulawesi climbed to 1,424, including 1,203 in Palu, 144 in Donggala, 64 in Sigi and 12 in Parigi Moutong. As many as 113 people are still missing.

More than 2,500 people are given treatment at hospitals while nearly 71,000 are homeless and are lacking in essential items.

Suwelasi island was ravaged by two quakes measuring 6.1 and 7.5 on the Richter scale on September 28. A tsunami struck after the second quake in the afternoon of the same day.

The United Nations said that nearly 200,000 Indonesians, including tens of thousands of children, are in need of urgent aid.

A series of earthquakes in July and August killed nearly 500 people on the holiday island of Lombok, hundreds of kilometres southwest of Sulawesi.

In 2004, a substantial earthquake off the northern Indonesian island of Sumatra triggered a tsunami across the Indian Ocean, killing 220,000 people in 13 countries, including more than 168,000 in Indonesia.-VNA