Indonesia mulls making quake areas mass graves

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Indonesia mulls making quake areas mass graves

Relief supplies from Japan, including tents and generators, have arrived at Indonesia's Sulawesi Island, which was devastated by a magnitude-7.5 quake and tsunami on September 28th.

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 quake victims sticking out of the mud. But perhaps more deadly was soil liquefaction which obliterated several Palu neighborhoods. "There are so many corpses around here", said Irwan, 37, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said many more people could be buried, especially in the Palu neighborhoods of Petobo and Balaroa, where more than 3,000 homes were damaged or sucked into deep mud when the September 28 quake caused loose soil to liquefy.

No one knows how many people were dragged to their deaths when the ground under Petobo and nearby areas south of Palu, dissolved so violently. They are all missing.

The national disaster agency says 1,700 homes in one neighbourhood alone were swallowed up.

'Palu's ordeal is the grief for all of us and that's why everyone is lending a hand to help, ' he said. "We don't want this". Those not found by Thursday will be presumed dead, disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

Debris would be cleared and areas hit by liquefaction would be turned into parks and sports venues and will include memorials.

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

The dead were still being recovered more than a week after the double disaster. Figures for more remote areas, some just re-connected to the outside world by road, are trickling in.

"We're already angry", said Diman, who is living in a shelter with his brother and another sister.

Hasnah, 44, also a resident of Petobo, has trouble remembering all of the relatives she's trying to find in the tangled expanse of mud and debris.

"We don't agree with giving up". "If there are bodies in the spaces, we'll extract them".

More than 1,400 people were killed in last Friday's quake and tsunami.

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

In a rare move, Indonesia's government appealed for worldwide help to cope with the tragedy on Sulawesi island.

Life is on hold for thousands living in tents and shelters in the Indonesian city hit by a powerful quake and tsunami.

In 2004, a quake off Sumatra island triggered a tsunami across the Indian Ocean that killed 226,000 people in 13 countries, including more than 120,000 in Indonesia.

Earlier on Sunday, dozens of Christians gathered outside ruined churches for services to give thanks for their survival and to mourn members of their congregation killed in the disaster. Multinational companies such as Google and Apple have also pledged monetary assistance, in addition to £11.6 million from the United Nations and millions more from other countries. "I'm from here so all my family are here, so many are gone", he said, reeling off a list of the missing including a sister, an aunt and cousins.

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