Fuel shortage hits quake-hit Central Sulawesi amid reports of looting

ST VIDEO: DESMOND FOO
Long queues of people waiting to purchase fuel in Palu.
Long queues of people waiting to purchase fuel in Palu.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO
Long queues of people waiting to purchase fuel in Palu.
Long queues of people waiting to purchase fuel in Palu.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO
Scenes of devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Palu city.
Scenes of devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Palu city.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO
Scenes of devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Palu city.
Scenes of devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Palu city.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO
A man carries away looted goods from Palu Grand Mall on Sept 30, 2018, after an earthquake and a tsunami struck the area in Indonesia's Central Sulawesi province.
A man carries away looted goods from Palu Grand Mall on Sept 30, 2018, after an earthquake and a tsunami struck the area in Indonesia's Central Sulawesi province.PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA - Bringing in fuel is a top priority in quake-affected Central Sulawesi to ensure a normal emergency response, local authorities said on Sunday (Sept 30).

However, significant progress in restoring electricity supplies would take about three days, they added.

"The supply of fuel, (given) current circumstances, is very limited. The lack of fuel has caused mobile electricity generator units, vehicles, water pumps to be idle," Dr Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the spokesman for Indonesia's disaster management agency (BNPB), told reporters on Sunday.

Mobile phone towers that rely on electricity have also stopped working.

Fuel depots that supply to Palu were damaged by Friday's earthquake while roads to alternative depots in West Sulawesi sustained cracks or were otherwise left inaccesible following landslides.

"We received reports today that a water truck was looted by local residents," Dr Sutopo said, adding that a dire shortage of basic items led people to act irresponsibly.

There were also reports of looting at stores selling groceries or basic items in Palu.

 
 
 
 

The authorities were trying to get fuel from Poso, about a four-hour drive away, and nearby cities including Tolitoli and Parepare, Dr Sutopo added.

Indonesia's Social Affairs Minister Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita has meanwhile arrived in Palu with a team to set up six field kitchens to provide food and shelter for quake and tsunami victims in Palu and Donggala, which was closer to the epicentre.

Each field kitchen can prepare 2,000 meal packs three times a day, or 6,000 packs a day.

The team, which started mapping out the area to find suitable spots for the facility, will also put up multi-purpose tents for emergency hospitals, distribute beds for patients lying on the lawn of the hospital, and set up an emergency centre in the city centre to help displaced residents.

"We will help residents to meet basic needs and provide other services such as counselling," the minister said.