Indonesian quake death toll soars above 1,500

Some residents have taken to digging through reeking piles of sodden food and debris

DITA ALANGKARA APSome residents have taken to digging through reeking piles of sodden food and debris

A French rescue team said Thursday it has detected a possible sign of life under the rubble of a hotel in Indonesia's Sulawesi island almost a week after it was hit by a powerful quake and tsunami, as the death toll rose to more than 1,500.

National disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in Jakarta on Wednesday afternoon that 519 of the bodies had been buried.

The Queen has sent a message to the President of Indonesia following a devastating natural disaster and tsunami in Sulawesi last week.

Families of the children, aged between 11 and 15, are expected to meet with the authorities to determine the exact number of those missing, which according to the Red Cross could be around 100.

Nevertheless there were signs of life returning to normal, with children playing in the streets, radios blaring out music, and electricity back up and running in most places.

"The looters were not people from the affected areas".

Initially, the country was hesitant to accept foreign aid but the scope of the disaster changed their minds.

The Indonesian retailers association said that losses sustained by mini market chain stores operating in Palu and Donggala had reached 450 billion rupiah (about $2.9 million) as of Monday.

As survivors pick through the shattered remains of their neighbourhoods, the death toll continues to rise.

"There is always hope", said the group's president Philippe Besson.

Members of the French organization Pompiers de l'urgence leave after checking for signs of life on their device at a heavily damaged Mercure hotel caused by the massive natural disaster and tsunami in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia Friday, Oct. 5, 2018. Officials on the ground said that while the govt was now inviting offers of help, there is still no "mechanism for this to be implemented".

Thousands have been injured and more than 70,000 evacuated to shelters and makeshift tents that have sprouted across Palu, the provincial capital of Sulawesi island that is home to most of the victims, and its surrounding areas.

"The Philippines stands with Indonesia during this most hard time and is ready to provide assistance to Indonesia", it added.

As a result, the Indonesian government expects to launch a new strategy to find disaster recovery, part of which could include the issuance and sale of catastrophe bonds, the report says.

Haq told reporters at United Nations headquarters in NY that water is the main issue because most of the water supply infrastructure has been damaged.

Indonesia sits along the Pacific "Ring of Fire", the world's most tectonically active region, and its 260 million people are vulnerable to earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions.

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