Death toll from Indonesian quakes, tsunami rises to 1,424
admin • October 5, 2018 • 3308
Sand is placed over dead bodies of the victims of the earthquake and tsunami during a mass burial at the Poboya Cemetery in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, October 2, 2018. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
The death toll from the multiple quakes and ensuing tsunami in Indonesia’s Central Sulawesi province has risen to 1,424, an official said at a joint press conference in Jakarta on Thursday.
Many victims are feared to still be buried in the ruins of Palu, the provincial capital, and in the districts of Donggala and Sigi, according to the spokesman of the Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.
Sutopo told the press that 1,200 of the victims were from Palu and that most of the deceased victims have been laid to rest by Wednesday.
The spokesman added that the death toll from last Friday’s disaster is expected to rise as there are reports that hundreds of locals could still be trapped under the ruins of the houses leveled by the quakes.
Daryono, head of the earthquake and tsunami information center at the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) said that Sulawesi historically sees frequent tsunamis but that the disaster this time was difficult to forecast and exceeded worst predictions. Considering there are nearly 300 seismically active areas in the country, Daryono warned that people should stay away from the coastline anytime a quake occurs.
“The maximum plate movement happened in Sulawesi, separating Sulawesi Island into east and west parts from Palu Bay to the Gulf of Boni. This is the most likely plate movement to happen in Indonesia,” said Daryono. — Reuters
MANILA, Philippines – Over a week since Taal Volcano began its eruptive activity, danger still remains according to experts.
In fact, a total of 787 earthquakes have been recorded in the volcano island on Saturday (January 18) alone, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS).
This frequency of ground shaking is double the number of all volcanic earthquakes recorded in the previous six days of Taal’s volcanic activity.
Over the weekend, more than 200 tremors were recorded within the range of magnitude 1.2 and 4.1, the PHIVOLCS said and on Sunday evening (January 19), the strongest shaking – magnitude 4.2 earthquake – was felt in Mabini, Batangas.
The volcano institute have also observed that Taal is producing about one-kilometer high white ash pillar and sulfur dioxide of around 1,442 tons each day.
Because of these observations, PHIVOLCS cannot just lift or downgrade Alert Level 4 that is currently in effect around the volcano island because the possibility of a massive explosive eruption remains high within hours or days.
Thus, PHIVOLCS strongly appeals for understanding and more patience from residents and reminds them not to return yet to their villages especially those within the 14-km danger zone.
Sydney – Australian authorities confirmed Wednesday the death of a firefighter as a result of bushfires that have ravaged the country since September, bringing the death toll to 26.
Matt Kavanagh, 43, died wile on duty after a Friday crash between two vehicles which police linked to the bushfires, Victoria’s Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville said.
This is the third death in Victoria due to the fires, which have already caused 20 fatalities in New South Wales and three more in South Australia.
The confirmation came as firefighters continued their struggle to control dozens of fires that have been raging in the country’s southeast as temperatures are expected to rise above 40C (104F) at the end of the week.
On Tuesday, they took advantage of improved weather conditions to bolster preparations against the blazes that continue to burn in those areas.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, during a visit to Kangaroo Island – the country’s third largest isle – told reporters weather conditions were expected to worsen in the coming days.
Two people died on the island at the end of the year amid the fires still blazing countrywide.
The fires have burned more than 50 houses and almost half of this tourist island, located some 112 kilometers (69.5 miles) from Adelaide, home to 60,000 kangaroos, 50,000 koalas and other endangered animals who are suffering the catastrophe’s consequences.
The Insurance Council of Australia said Tuesday a total AU$700 million ($485 million) of accumulated damages have been recorded since September, with nearly 9,000 fire-related claims.
Morrison, heavily criticized for his handling of the crisis, announced Monday a package of AU$2 billion over the next two years to finance the recovery of affected areas.
The fires have razed more than 8 million hectares of land throughout the country, equivalent to the area of Austria, including some 2,000 homes.
They broke out before the beginning of summer in the southern hemisphere, which begins in December and where a shortage of rain is expected until the end of March. EFE-EPA
Jakarta – The president of Indonesia on Wednesday visited an island in disputed waters of the South China Sea amid a weeks-long standoff between Indonesian and Chinese vessels, an outgrowth of the ongoing territorial spat in which Jakarta and Beijing both claim sovereignty over the area.
Joko Widodo made the symbolic trip to Natuna Besar – the main island of the Middle Natuna Archipelago in the Riau Islands province – in a bid to assert Indonesia’s claims of ownership of the waters. There, he met with local fishermen and talked to reporters.
“I am here too to ensure law enforcement for our sovereign rights – our country’s sovereign rights – over the richness of our marine natural resources in the exclusive economic zone,” Widodo said. “Why are Bakamla (the Indonesian Maritime Security Agency) and the Navy here? To ensure the rule of law.”
The leader, who was re-elected to a second term in April of last year, added that Indonesia had a district, a regent and a governor in the area. “There are no more debates. De facto, de jure, Natuna is Indonesia.”
Meanwhile, Geng Shuang, the main spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry, said Wednesday that Beijing had repeatedly reiterated its sovereignty and jurisdiction over relevant waters in the South China Sea.
“I have to stress that China and Indonesia have no territorial sovereignty disputes. Our claims for maritime interests in certain waters in South China Sea overlap,” Geng said. “We are ready to properly handle the differences with Indonesia and uphold the peace and stability in the region as well as our two countries’ relations. Actually, we have been in communication through diplomatic channels.”
The face-off between the two Asian nations erupted in the second half of December when a Chinese coast guard ship that was escorting several fishing vessels entered waters that Jakarta says belong to its EEZ (though Beijing claims the waters as its own, along with most of the South China Sea).
In response to the incursion, Indonesia summoned the Chinese ambassador, issued a letter of protest and sent warships and fighter jets to strengthen its military presence in the area, which it re-named the North Natuna Sea in 2017. Beijing, in turn, deployed another coast guard boat.
On Tuesday, Indonesia sent four more warships as reinforcement. The Southeast Asian country currently has a naval presence of 10 military vessels around Natuna.
The dispute over the Natuna Islands dates back to 2016, when Indonesia decided to build military bases in the region following a series of conflicts with Chinese fishing boats.
Besides Indonesia, China is locked in sovereignty disputes over the South China Sea with the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
Beijing stakes claim on nearly the entire South China Sea region, an area through which $5 billion worth of commercial traffic passes annually, and which boasts large fishing zones and is reportedly rich in oil and gas reserves. EFE-EPA
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