The recent earthquakes in Indonesia have killed 840 people, according to government reports from the country.
It’s likely that this is an undercount because more rubble has to be cleared away before bodies can be recovered, and it’s likely that the total death toll will surpass 1,000.
Sources from CNN stated that the conditions in the affected parts of the country are apocalyptic. Water, food and shelter are in short supply, and aftershocks from the earthquake are continuing to do damage to the structures that remain.
Some survivors have had to resort to scavenging supplies from destroyed shops and gas stations in order to survive.
According to Reuters, rescuers have had a difficult time getting to the worst areas affected by the disaster. Bridges and roads have been obliterated by the earthquake. The earthquake was at a 7.5 magnitude, and launched tsunamis that were up to 10 feet high.
Sutopo Purwo, a spokesman for the Indonesian Disaster Management Agency, stated that over two million people have been affected by the earthquake, and over 60,000 have been displaced.
Operating from the Donggala district, Red Cross workers said that the city of Palu was especially hard-hit, but the entire region has suffered terribly, and more emergency aid is desperately needed.
One of the most serious concerns is the lack of safe drinking water. In its absence, people may be forced to drink from rivers and other unsafe water sources. Damaged infrastructure can lead to sewage leaking into freshwater sources. This can cause and worsen the spread of infectious diseases, potentially leading to more fatalities in the affected areas.
In addition, hospitals and other critical health infrastructure has been devastated by the earthquakes, and shortages in medical supplies are likely to make the crisis worse.
Jan Gelfand, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, described the situation in Palu and Donggala as “nightmarish.”
Military aircraft have been deployed in Palu to get survivors to safety, but restoring operations has been difficult due to the extent of the destruction.
A naval vessel will soon be sent to Palu to get 1,000 more people out.
The situation is causing political anger in the city and surrounding region as well, with citizens furious at the local government’s unpreparedness in dealing with natural disasters.
The Indonesian government’s first priority is to give aid to the survivors, and international aid is both accepted and requested, according to government sources.