People wait at morgue to see if bodies are of missing kin

The disaster management agency raised the death toll to 430 on Dec 26, with 1,495 people injured and another 159 missing.
The disaster management agency raised the death toll to 430 on Dec 26, with 1,495 people injured and another 159 missing.PHOTO: ST FILE

CARITA • Grief-stricken Indonesians queued up with photos or waited for DNA tests on Wednesday to find out if their missing loved ones were among bodies being held in a hospital morgue after a devastating tsunami tore families apart.

"I am scared," said Mr Tubagus Cecep, 63, as he waited nervously at a hospital in devastated Carita for test results on a body he fears could be that of his son. "But if I keep my faith in God, maybe he could have been swept away somewhere and is still alive."

His son, a university student due to graduate in five months, has not been seen since the day of the disaster, when he was on a day trip to an island off the coast of Java. Four of his friends are also missing.

"They found a body, a pile of bags and my son's shoes," the father of 10 told Agence France-Presse. "I am still waiting for the body to be identified. We do not know yet if it was him."

Others queued up showing photos of their loved ones on mobile phones, with officials carrying out the grisly task of checking them against bodies in the morgue.

"We have been asking them about when was the last time they saw their relative, what they were wearing, if they have any identifying marks on their body," said Mr Nariyana, head of the local police forensics and medical services unit, who goes by one name.

The task has been made more difficult by multiple relatives making duplicate reports of missing loved ones, Mr Nariyana said.

 
 
 
 

Also waiting was Mr Nur Masa, who was at a Java beach with his older brother last Saturday evening when the powerful waves struck. His brother - who was fixing a fishing net when the waves crashed in - has not been seen since. "I still hope he can be found," the 33-year-old Mr Masa quietly told AFP. "But it has been four days and four nights, and he still has not been located."

An eruption at the Anak Krakatau volcano caused a section of the crater to collapse and slide into the ocean, triggering the killer tsunami, officials have said.

The disaster management agency on Wednesday raised the death toll to 430, with 1,495 people injured and another 159 missing.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 28, 2018, with the headline 'People wait at morgue to see if bodies are of missing kin'. Print Edition | Subscribe