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Hundreds of prisoners escape during deadly quake & tsunami in Indonesia

02 October 2018

Indonesian rescuers scrambled Monday to reach ravaged Sulawesi island as the death toll from last week's 7.5 magnitude quake climbed to 844 - including 34 children at a Christian camp - and was expected to rise.

UNICEF is appealing for USA $5 million to cover education, health, nutrition, sanitation and child protection needs for the current emergency as well as the lasting impact of the Lombok quake.

The death toll jumped on Tuesday from a previous confirmed figure of 844. Almost 800 were seriously injured.

Footage of Palu, the provincial capital, shows a sea of destruction, with a crumpled mess of houses, cars and trees mashed together, with rooftops and roads split asunder. "Drinking water, drinking water, please", some survivors said to passing motorists.

Four districts with a combined population of about 1.4 million have been completely cut off from communications.

As of Tuesday afternoon, disaster agency estimated 99 people were missing, 799 were badly injured, 152 victims remained trapped under debris, there were 61,687 refugees created by the quake and tsunami and 65,733 houses had collapsed.

The bodies of more than 30 children who were attending a Christian Bible camp on a northern Indonesian island were discovered Monday amid wreckage brought to the region by Friday's magnitude 7.5 natural disaster and ensuing tsunami, a Red Cross spokesperson told ABC News. In outlying areas, the fate of thousands is still unknown.

About 3,000 residents flocked to Palu's airport Monday, trying to board military aircraft or one of the few commercial flights using the facility only partially operating due to damage. Many more want to leave.

A video circulating on Twitter, said to have been taken in Donggala regency, also shows people intercepting a relief aid truck. The Indonesian government has evacuated 114 foreign nationals. "I was able to save other people, but I was unable to save my own family".

Indonesia, one of the world's most disaster-prone countries, lies on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" where tectonic plates collide and numerous world's volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.

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At least 20 police were at the scene but did not intervene.

The government has played down worries about looting though witnesses have seen incidents.

As officials began burying hundreds of dead in a mass grave Monday, thousands of survivors of a devastating quake and tsunami converged on the airport of this heavily damaged Indonesian city and clamoured to leave, saying there was little to eat and their homes were unsafe.

Indonesia's finance minister, Sri Mulyani Indrawati, said Monday a budget of $38 million would be made available for disaster relief in Central Sulawesi.

Rescue workers have just begun to reach the region of Donggala where some 300,000 people live.

Mass graves were dug Monday as Indonesian authorities rushed to bury hundreds of people killed by an natural disaster and tsunami that cracked streets, tore down buildings and washed away homes on the island of Sulawesi. It was unclear if the aid had been distributed. "Our thoughts are with all the victims and first responders working around the clock to save lives", Stylianides said.

Authorities said they have started to bury the dead in mass graves to prevent the spread of diseases.

Search-and-rescue teams combed destroyed homes and buildings, including a collapsed eight-story hotel, for any trapped survivors, but they needed more heavy equipment to clear the rubble.

"The scale of the damage from the quake and tsunami is huge and there are fears many people are trapped under collapsed buildings like hotels and supermarkets", says Ancilla Bere, Oxfam's Humanitarian Manager in Indonesia. Authorities have urged them to return within one week.

According to Fox News, Aritonang said, 545 bodies would be brought from one hospital to the grave.

Hundreds of prisoners escape during deadly quake & tsunami in Indonesia