Crews in Indonesia recover hundreds of bodies from rubble of earthquake, tsunami

World Today

A resident walks at an area hit by the earthquake and tsunami in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, October 4, 2018. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

More bodies have been pulled from the rubble in Indonesia following a deadly earthquake and tsunami, but many are still missing. 

CGTN’s Barnaby Lo visited one area of Palu City, where as many as a thousand bodies may still be buried.

The stench of death is overpowering underneath all the rubble in Balaroa. Hundreds of families lived in the government housing complex in Palu, the Indonesian city hit hardest by last week’s earthquake and tsunami. Military officers on the ground say as many as 1,000 people may have been buried here, with only a fraction having been recovered.

“My father-in-law was about to enter the mosque when the earth shook,” said Arman, who, like many Indonesians, uses only one name. “He held on to the fence, and then he went up and down as the ground rose and fell.”

Arman’s father-in-law survived somehow. In fact, his entire family is safe, but he’s lost almost everything he worked hard for. Still, that’s more than most other residents of Balaroa can say.

“We have to be here so that when their bodies are found we can bury them,” said Bowo, who was working to recover the bodies of his mother and father–who he knows did not make it out of their house during the earthquake.

With more heavy equipment and search and rescue workers on site, the hope is that bodies can be retrieved faster. But like Bowo and his siblings, most of Balaroa’s surviving residents say they’ve accepted the harsh reality that their missing loved ones may be gone forever.