Indonesia making progress in quake relief efforts: Jokowi

Indonesian President Joko Widodo (second from left), accompanied by Central Sulawesi Governor Longki Djanggola (first from left), visiting people injured by the earthquake and tsunami in Palu, on Sept 30, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA - Indonesia is making progress in the evacuation of victims and relief efforts in the quake-ravaged areas across Central Sulawesi, President Joko Widodo said on Wednesday (Oct 3).

Speaking to reporters during his second visit to Palu and Donggala, the two worst-hit areas in the province, Mr Joko added that logistical support in terms of fuel and electricity are slowly becoming available.

"But it is a process," he said, reiterating again and again to reporters that relief efforts will take time.

The casualty count from last Friday's 7.4-magnitude earthquake, which triggered a deadly tsunami, has been mounting. The death toll is now 1,234, while 799 people are seriously injured, 152 are trapped under buildings, and 99 are still missing. More than 61,000 have been displaced.

Mr Joko said rescue efforts at the devastated Roa Roa Hotel, where about 50 rooms were filled with guests when the earthquake struck last Friday, will continue so that all victims can be recovered, he said on Wednesday. Equipment has been dispatched to help this process.

Logistical support and fuel have also arrived in areas that have been starved of it, the president added. Fuel depots that supply Palu were damaged by the quake.

Electricity too is starting to come back on, said Mr Jokowi, adding that five out of seven powerhouses in Palu were damaged by the quake.

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He also said it was important to resume economic activity, so that the people can return to their daily lives soon.

Offers of international support have been pouring in, with 26 countries - including Singapore - and two international organisations coming forward as of Tuesday.

Two Republic of Singapore Air Force aircraft were deployed to Indonesia on Tuesday night to deliver humanitarian aid and help evacuate quake victims.

"If needed, the SAF (Singapore Armed Forces) will do more to help our brothers and sisters in Indonesia through this natural disaster," Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

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