A week after a major earthquake brought devastation to Indonesia’s Sulawesi island, the official death toll from the quake and the tsunami it triggered stands at 1571, but it will certainly rise.
Most of the dead have been found in Palu. Figures for more remote areas, some still cut off by destroyed roads and landslides, are only trickling in, if at all.
No one knows how many people were dragged to their deaths when the ground under Petobo and nearby areas south of Palu, dissolved violently.
The national disaster agency says 1700 homes in one neighbourhood alone were swallowed up and hundreds of people killed.
Homes were sucked into the earth, torn apart and shunted hundreds of metres by the churning mud.
The first signs of recovery are evident in Palu. Electricity has been restored and some shops and banks have reopened and aid and fuel are arriving.
Vice President Jusuf Kalla, visiting the disaster zone, said recovery would be completed in two years, beginning with a two-month emergency response phase when everyone who lost their house would get temporary shelter.
Doctors have been flocking to help from other parts of Indonesia.
The Budi Agung hospital has 134 beds with about 20 more set up in a tent outside, all full. A hospital ship is also due to arrive.
Doctors said many patients have been at high risk of infection because they were buried in mud.
Rescue workers are pushing into outlying districts cut off for days. Villagers rushed a Red Cross helicopter that landed at Sirenja village near the quake’s epicentre, about 75km north of Palu, to drop off supplies.
Some quake damage was evident but the coast did not appear to have been battered by the tsunami, a Reuters photographer said.
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.