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Indonesia's disaster agency says the death toll from the quake and tsunami that struck Sulawesi island has risen to 1,763, with more than 5,000 feared missing.

The official death toll from the quake and the tsunami it triggered stands at 1,571, but it will certainly rise.

Helicopters have been running supply drops to more isolated communities outside Palu, where the full extent of the damage is still not entirely clear. The team only had a hand drill and stopped digging as night fell.

When up to six-metre (20-foot) tsunami waves crashed into the Indonesian city of Palu last month, Didiek Wahyudi Kurniawan's house near the beach was quickly engulfed with water, leaving his wife and two daughters barely any time to escape.

"Most of the bodies we have found are not intact, and that poses a danger for the rescuers". Their mother was killed and her body found. He earlier said that 120 foreigners were reported to be in the disaster-struck zone, but 119 have been rescued and evacuated.

The agency said the health ministry has identified air transportation, water treatment, generators and shelter or tents as key priorities.

"Once we got everyone on board, you know these guys have lost a lot, they've lost houses and lost family members, so to see them smile and give a thumbs up as we took off was a really proud moment for the guys". She told reporters that the government is still working out arrangements with other countries including Japan and the U.S.

"Based on reports from the (village) heads of Balaroa and Petobo, there are about 5,000 people who have not been found", agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told reporters yesterday.

The Indonesian military will deliver the supplies to the quake victims. Children and the elderly were starting to get sick and fuel was also in very short supply, he said.

A villager carries his belongings at Balaroa village in Poso of Central Sulawesi province, Indonesia, Oct. 8, 2018.

"There are so many corpses around here", said Irwan, 37, a resident of Petobo, standing amidst the ruins.

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Authorities have yet to conduct a tally of casualties in districts near the epicentre, but Lakuaci estimated dozens of people had been killed.

Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said many more people could be buried, especially in the Palu neighbourhoods of Petobo and Balaroa, where more than 3,000 homes were damaged or sucked into deep mud when the September 28 quake caused loose soil to liquefy.

He provided the updated figure Sunday at a news conference in Jakarta. The French rescuers said on their Facebook page that 40 people, including six workers, were still missing there.

Indonesian police say 92 people have been arrested for looting goods in areas devastated by an natural disaster and tsunami in Central Sulawesi province.

The national disaster agency said the number of dead had climbed to 1,763, mostly in Palu.

Outside the church, Malonda said the intensity of the disaster had taken even scientists by surprise and called it the will of God. He said security will be necessary for economic activity to resume.

An airport damaged by the quake in central Indonesia is expected to re-open to civilian traffic later Thursday.

Lt. Col. Agus Hariyanto said 100 marines landed Thursday at Palu airport and 200 more were on their way. Taiwan's Tzu Chi Foundation sent a 10-person team consisting of doctors and nurses from Jakarta with more to arrive later. "We just find bodies, every day", says Syafaruddin, who like many Indonesians goes by one name. In the most badly affected places, however, access is still a significant obstacle, said Paul Dillon, spokesperson for the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) "Part of the problem is that the areas that are closest to the tsunami, where the tsunami hit hardest, are literally buried in mud".

Aid is continuing to pour into hard-hit areas of Indonesia's Sulawesi island, which has been rattled by some 450 aftershocks since an natural disaster and tsunami struck just over a week ago. The death toll has topped 1500.

But the way is now open and aid is starting to trickle in to the area that rescue workers feared had been obliterated.


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