· Looting and clashes with police in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami ·
The Indonesian army has sent a military contingent to the port city of Palu on the island of Sulawesi, which was struck last Friday by a powerful earthquake measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale and by the ensuing tsunami, According to sources in Jakarta aeronautics, the contingent will be responsible for guarding shops, infrastructure, fuel storage deposits, banks and the international airport, all of which have been stormed by the people. Six days from the disaster, tension in Palu is extremely high due to shortages in essential services and lack of humanitarian aid. With 66,000 of the city’s buildings destroyed by the earthquake and entire areas still not reached by rescue workers, shop lootings are increasing, as is also the hostility between law enforcement officials and residents.
A Bbc journalist in Palu reported that yesterday, police shot rounds in the air and used tear gas to try to disperse a crowd that was looting a store. The police officers had been guarding a shop selling foodstuffs when they found themselves under pressure from dozens of residents who were attempting to enter. About 50 people were arrested. The situation is deteriorating with each passing hour and the death toll currently estimated by civil protection to be at around 1,400 is expected to rise, while the Red Cross warned that 200,000 people are still in need of help. There is hardly any fuel left and electricity supply is intermittement. The country’s national fuel company has sent tankers to stock up. Residents stand in several hundred metres long cues in the hot sun to receive the most basic items. “Everyone is hungry after not eating for several days”, said the head of administration for the Donggala Province, an area which has yet to be reached by rescue workers. Mass graves are being dug in Palu in an effort to prevent epidemics.
St. Peter’s Square
Feb. 22, 2019