Nearly 2,000 bodies have been recovered from Indonesia's disaster-ravaged Palu city, an official said Monday, as the search for victims ended at a hotel destroyed in the powerful earthquake and tsunami.
The death toll from the twin disaster on Sulawesi island that erased whole suburbs in Palu has reached 1,944, said local military spokesman M.Thohir. He added that the death toll is expected to rise as the the officials have not recrived orders to halt the search for bodies.
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A spokesman for the Joint Task Force for Central Sulawesi province said a total of 2,549 people were still in hospitals for medical treatment after the disasters hit the province on September 28, reports Xinhua news agency.
The number of people who were missing or believed to be buried under the debris were 683 and 152 respectively, he said.
The National Disaster Management Agency said most bodies were retrieved from Palu, the provincial capital, followed by the districts of Donggala, Sigi, Parigi Mountong and a district of Pasang Kayu in nearby West Sulawesi province.
"The search for the victims is expected to be completed on Thursday," an official said.
The quakes and tsunami have forced a total of 62,359 Indonesians to flee their homes and take shelter in makeshift tents and under tarpaulins at 147 evacuation centres, he added.
Powerful and shallow quakes of 6.0, 7.4 and 6.1 magnitude that triggered a tsunami devastated the province on September 28, with the hardest-hit area in Palu and adjoining Donggala district.
The tsunami, which followed the quakes with the height of 0.5 to 3 meters, ravaged coastal areas near the Talisa beach in Palu and Donggala district, according to the meteorology and geophysics agency.
Meanwhile, more than 5,000 people are believed to be missing from two-hard hit areas in Indonesian city of Palu less than a week after it was devastated by a deadly earthquake and tsunami.
Hopes of finding anyone alive have faded and the search for survivors amid the wreckage has turned to gathering and accounting for the dead.
The disaster agency said the official search for the unaccounted would continue until October 11 at which point they would be listed as missing, presumed dead.
The Red Cross said on Monday it had treated more than 1,800 people at clinics and administered first aid to a similar number in the immediate disaster zone.
Indonesia sits along the world's most tectonically active region, and its 260 million people are vulnerable to earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions.