dozens of excavators dispatched to evacuate palus quake victims: minister

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Public Works and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono has instructed his people to mobilize at least 14 excavators, three dump trucks, and two water trucks to support the rescue and evacuation efforts and public works in the disaster zones around the Central Sulawesi city of Palu.

The heavy construction equipment would also be used for evacuating the earthquake and tsunami victims, building sanitation and safe-water facilities, cleaning a pile of debris of destroyed buildings, and helping restore the citys connectivity, he said in a statement that Antara received here on Monday.

According to Basuki Hadimuljono, nine excavators were dispatched to Petobo while five others would be sent to Balaroa, the two areas which suffered the most damage from the 7.4-magnitude earthquake and tsunami that hit the city on September 28.

The excavators would mainly be used for rescuing and evacuating the quake and tsunami victims from the remnants of destroyed buildings. Rescue workers predict that tens of people might remain trapped under the debris in the two areas, the minister said.

The minister further said two other excavators and three dump trucks were mobilized to clean the city from a pile of debris of damaged and destroyed buildings. "We hope the cleaning will have been completed within two weeks," he said, adding that his ministry works with the Palu city government in cleaning the debris.

As part of the emergency relief operations, the sanitation and safe-water facilities were built in more than 80 places around the city, including densely-populated areas and those used as temporary shelters, he said.

The ministry also provided 15 portable toilets and ten emergency tents, as well as helped restore connectivity within the city, including fixing two damaged bridges in Towalen and Toyoba so that the supplies of humanitarian aids could more quickly be transported from Makassar, Gorontalo, and Poso to Palu, he said.

The earthquake that hit several parts of Central Sulawesi Province on Friday afternoon was followed by tsunami, which had badly smashed the coasts of Palu and Donggala District.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) recorded that, as of Sunday at 01.00 pm Western Indonesia Time (WIB), the earthquake and tsunami had killed 821 people in Palu and 11 others in Donggala District.

In response to this catastrophe, President Joko Widodo has expressed his condolences to those affected by the earthquake and tsunami.

On the meantime, National Police Spokesman Brig.Gen.Dedi Prasetyo said earlier that a large number of rotting corpses of the earthquake and tsunami victims in the disaster zones would be buried in mass graves on Monday.

"Most of the corpses have started rotting so that we are going to bury them in mass graves as quickly as possible to prevent them from posing a risk of epidemic diseases," he said.

The rescue workers of a joint-emergency task force have been working hard to evacuate the dead victims and survivors from the rubble of damaged and destroyed buildings in the disaster zones, he said.

At the same time, the police and military personnel had been dispatched to safeguard several gas stations and minimarkets around Palu to prevent them from being looted.

"The police and military personnel will secure the gas stations and minimarkets to prevent a number of local people, who need food, from looting them," he said.

Source: ANTARA News

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