Search For Indonesia Quake Victims To End On Thursday

Indonesian rescue workers will stop searching for the bodies of victims of an earthquake and tsunami on the island of Sulawesi on Thursday, the national disaster mitigation agency said on Sunday.

The announcement came after the official death toll from the 7.5 magnitude quake and a tsunami it triggered on September 28 rose to 1,763.

Bodies are still being recovered, especially from the ruins of buildings in the small city of Palu and from neighborhoods hit by liquefaction, a phenomenon that turns the ground into a roiling quagmire, in the south of city.

A collapsed mosque is picrtured in Palu, Indonesia's Central Sulawesi on October 1, 2018. - The death toll from the Indonesian quake-tsunami nearly doubled to 832 but was expected to rise further after a disaster that has left the island of Sulawesi reeling. (Photo by JEWEL SAMAD / AFP) (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

“Evacuation stops on October 11,” the national disaster mitigation agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told a news briefing, using an Indonesian word that applies to the search and retrieval of both living and dead people.

“Victims who have not been found are declared missing,” he said. Some limited searching might still be undertaken but large-scale searches with many personnel and heavy equipment would cease, he said.

Many hundreds of people are still buried in mud and debris in the south of Palu, where neighborhoods were obliterated by liquefaction and desperate relatives have been seeking help to find loved ones.

Rescue teams continue to search through the wreckage of the Roa-Roa Hotel following earthquakes and a tsunami in Palu, Central Sulawesi Indonesia, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018. Image: AAP

Dozens of rescuers removed 34 bodies from one place on Saturday.

Nugroho said the debris would be removed from those places and they would be turned into public spaces like parks and sports venues. Surveys would be carried out and people living in areas vulnerable to liquefaction would be moved.

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In this Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018, file photo, people survey the massive damage of a warehouse after Friday's tsunami at a neighborhood in Donggala, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. Image: AAP

“We don’t want the community to be relocated to such dangerous places,” he said.

Most of the dead have been found in Palu, the region’s main urban center.

Figures for more remote areas, some just re-connected to the outside world by road, are trickling in. The heaviest casualties appear to have been in Palu.