Indonesia to end national search efforts as new quake hits Java
Jakarta - The Indonesian government will on Friday call off national search efforts for victims of last month's earthquake and tsunami, an official said.
Two weeks after a 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck Central Sulawesi province, triggering a tsunami and soil liquefaction, 2,073, people were confirmed dead and 87,725 displaced, the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) said on Thursday.
"The national search and rescue agency will handover its task to the Palu city search and rescue agency and they will continue the work," BNPB spokesman Sutopo Nugroho said in a press conference, adding that the national search will continue until sundown on Friday.
The spokesman said that the latest data showed 680 people were still unaccounted for after their houses were swallowed by torrents of mud in a process called liquefaction.
"We still can't determine the number of people missing as we still compiling the data," he added.
The provincial administration has extended the emergency phase to October 26 considering the massive destruction caused by the earthquake.
Meanwhile an undersea magnitude-6.4 quake shook East Java early Thursday. At least three people were killed and eight others injured by falling debris, Nugroho said.
The quake's epicentre was 61 kilometres north-east of Situbondo, at a depth of 10 kilometres, according to the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency.
At least 25 homes in Sumenep district in East Java province were damaged in the pre-dawn quake, Nugroho said.
The temblor was also felt strongly on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, where an annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank is being held.
Nugroho said Thursday's quake was not related to the Palu quake since the faults that triggered them are different.
Nugroho also denied reports that the Indonesian government refused to accept help from international volunteers and humanitarian aid offered by non-governmental organizations that travelled to Palu.
He added there were 14 foreigners who had been denied entry to Palu because they were not partnered with a local NGO to work in Indonesia's disaster areas and didn't have items needed for the affected communities as requested by the Indonesian government, such as power generators and water treatment.
"International volunteers who have finished their work in Palu and didn't have those items or qualifications to operate that equipment, have been requested to leave Palu immediately," Nugroho said.