Bodies of mother clutching baby found after Indonesia quake
- Sulawesi is one of the archipelago nation’s five main islands, and like the others, is exposed to frequent earthquakes and tsunami.
- In 2004, a quake off Sumatra island triggered a tsunami across the Indian Ocean that killed 226,000 people in 13 countries, including more than 120,000 in Indonesia.
A week after a major earthquake brought devastation to Sulawesi island,Indonesia. Ichsan Hidayat told how the bodies of his sister and her 43-day-old daughter were found under a sea of mud and debris, the mother clutching her baby to her chest.
Hidayat was not on Sulawesi last Friday when the 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck, triggering a phenomenon called soil liquefaction, which turns the ground into a roiling quagmire.
The neighborhood of Petobo, in the south of the city of Palu, where his sister, Husnul Hidayat, lived with her daughter, Aisah, was wiped out.
Rescuers who recovered the bodies told Hidayat his sister was found holding Aisah close.
“Today, I prayed that they are in a better place. They deserve better,” Hidayat told Reuters as he left Friday prayers at a mosque in the center of Palu, 1,500 km (930 miles) northeast of Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta.
Worshippers knelt to pray on red carpets put down outside the mosque as the building is unsafe due to quake damage.
Homes were sucked into the earth, torn apart and shunted hundreds of meters by the churning mud.
“The earth was like a blender, blending everything in its way,” said Hasnah, who like many Indonesians goes by only one name.
Hasnah said she has enough food and water but she’s furious that a search and rescue operation in her area only began on Thursday.
“They said they would come with the heavy machines but they didn’t,” she said. “They lied.”
Sick of waiting for help, villagers themselves have been searching, Hasnah said.
“We’ve marked the possible bodies with sticks. You can see a foot sticking out, but there’s no one here to dig them out.”
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