Indonesia disaster survivors search debris for food, drinks 

People who had come from devastated neighborhoods in the remote Indonesian city pulled out small cartons of milk, rice, packets of sweets, painkillers from the pile.

Published: 03rd October 2018 05:41 PM  |   Last Updated: 03rd October 2018 05:41 PM   |  A+A-

Indonesia Earthquake

A man holds bottles of body lotion scavenged from an abandoned warehouse following an earthquake and tsunami in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. (Photo | AP)


PALU:  "Awesome Indonesia," a young man shouted sarcastically as a crowd of people, some pushing their arms elbow deep into a jumbled pile of sodden food and debris, searched for anything edible in the shell of a warehouse that tsunami waves had pounded.

Clamoring over the reeking pile or staking out a patch of territory, the people pulled out small cartons of milk, soft drinks, rice, sweets and painkillers.

ALSO READ | Indonesia Tsunami: Death toll touches 1400, more feared trapped

One man digging out packets of biscuits had half submerged himself in the mess.

They had come from devastated neighborhoods and elsewhere in the remote Indonesian city of Palu, which was hit by a magnitude 7.5 earthquake and powerful tsunami on Friday.

They were young and old, middle class and poor, university students and sullen young men.

"We came here because we heard there was food," said Rehanna, a 23-year-old student, wearing a bright red motorcycle helmet.

"We need clean water, rice. She pulled out a prize - a packet of red rice wedged beneath a plank.

Men scavenge for food inside an abandoned warehouse in an earthquake and tsunami-affected area in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia.( Photo | AP)

She'd come from Balaroa, a neighborhood of several hundred houses in Palu that was turned upside down by the quake and where residents still remain buried beneath the rubble.

"I'm very angry," she said about the lack of aid. I know the assistance is coming, but the distribution is very bad. Officials say more than 1,200 people were killed in the twin tragedies that hit Palu and the surrounding district of Donggala on Sulawesi island.

The death toll is expected to rise. Search and rescue personnel are overwhelmed by a multitude of hard-hit areas, including a neighborhood that was swallowed by the earth when the ground liquified during the quake.

Aid is only trickling in, and five days after the disaster, the region remains without power. Indonesia, in a rare move, has appealed for international help.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo visited Palu for a second time Wednesday, visiting a collapsed hotel where search and rescue workers are still searching for victims.

The focus on the hotel has angered some in Palu, who wonder why their own neighborhoods, such as Belaroa, are being neglected.

A man carries a sack containing food scavenged from an abandoned warehouse damaged in an earthquake and tsunami-affected area in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. ( Photo | AP)

Aid being distributed in Palu on Wednesday included red and white bags - the colors of the Indonesian flag - marked as being supplied by the president's office.

A stretch of Palu's coastline once occupied by warehouses, but now a tangled unrecognizable mess, was being picked over by hundreds of people for anything salvageable.

People carried away corrugated iron, wood, pipes and other materials, hoping to build shelters or sell them for cash.

Furniture maker Khairul Hassan said he was working nearby when the quake hit and ran to hills behind the warehouses.

He said he saw women and children swallowed by the tsunami waves and trapped warehouse workers swept out to sea. In the shells of a row of buildings still standing, word had spread that there was a cache of food, and dozens milled about.

ALSO READ | Indonesia's Mount Soputan erupts on tsunami-hit island

"I'm looking for this for my kids," said Andi Arif, holding a bottle of syrup. There is some aid, but we never got it.

" Fifty-year-old Rosminah sat on the pile, a plastic shopping bag bulging with muddied packets of food next to her, chatting as she picked through the debris.

"There's no support. Our house was destroyed," said Rosminah, who like many Indonesians uses one name.

"We came here to search for food. There's no assistance. We have to find it by ourselves. Outside, Sofiyan, a farmer, was guarding an icebox and buckets stuffed with bottles of syrup, condensed milk, engine oil and pest killer.We really need fuel for a generator so we can boil water for drinking and washing," he said.


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp