Indonesian rescue workers will stop searching for the bodies of victims of an earthquake and tsunami on the island of Sulawesi on Thursday (October 11), 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. As many as 5,000 people are believed missing.
TRT World's Shamim Chowdhury reports.
Bodies are still being recovered, especially from the ruins of buildings in the small city of Palu and from neighbourhoods hit by liquefaction, a phenomenon that turns the ground into a roiling quagmire, in the south of city.
"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.
"Based on reports from the (village) heads of Balaroa and Petobo, there are about 5,000 people who have not been found," Nugroho said.
"Nevertheless, officials there are still trying to confirm this and are gathering data. It is not easy to obtain the exact number of those trapped by landslides, or liquefaction, or mud."
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 neighbourhoods were obliterated by liquefaction and desperate relatives have been seeking help to find loved ones.