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Half-wooden house undamaged in Indonesia’s powerful quakes

When all his neighbors built theirs permanent with concrete walls, Boby’s family kept their house in Palu, the provincial capital of Central Sulawesi, semi-permanent with only half of its walls made from concrete.
This structure withstood at least two powerful earthquakes, including a 7.4-magnitude one that struck the province on Friday.
“Half of the walls in my family’s house are made of teak wood. Our house remains intact, while other houses in the neighborhood are damaged,” Boby told Arab News.
Moreover, all his family members are safe and back in their house. He had tried to reach his family by phone since the quakes started, and was finally able to talk to one of his younger brothers on Monday.
“I was especially worried about my father since he’d had a stroke and was hospitalized. He returned home three days before the quake hit,” he said. Four days after the twin disaster struck Palu and Donggala, the death toll has soared to 844. Most of the dead — 821 — are from Palu, and 744 bodies have been identified, while the remaining casualties were in Donggala and Parigi Moutong districts, where 11 and 12 people died respectively.
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the spokesman for National Disaster Mitigation Agency, said 90 people (including eight foreigners from South Korea, Belgium and France) are still missing, while 632 people had been badly injured. The number of people displaced has reached 48,205, and this figure accounts only for those in Palu.
However, the official figures that the agency presented only scratched the surface as it is feared that hundreds of others are still unaccounted for, while commmunication networks are still down and rescue missions to other affected areas outside Palu are being hampered by damaged roads, landslides and broken bridges.
“We still don’t know the number of victims in Balaroa and Patobo housing complex. The soil in Balaroa was actually moving up and down, with houses rising up two meters and roads going down five meters down since they were built near the Palu-Koro fault and the quake triggered liquefaction,” Nugroho said.
“Hundreds of houses in Patobo have been swept away by the mud from the liquefaction,” he added. There were 1,747 houses in Balaroa and 744 in Patobo, which have now been reduced to debris. A rescuer told news broadcaster TV One that the number of survivors responding to calls from rescuers from beneath the ruins of the eight-story Roa-Roa Hotel in Palu, now almost flattened to the ground, became fewer and fewer every day. Efforts to take them out of the rubble have been hindered by the lack of heavy machinery to lift the broken concrete walls, but Nugroho said equipment had been moved in from cities in the region such as Mamuju, Gorontalo, Poso and Balikpapan. The Indonesian government said on Monday that it “welcomes” offers from various countries to assist in the relief efforts.
Nugroho said it was President Joko Widodo’s call to decide whether Indonesia would accept international aid after he visited the areas devastated in the disasters and assessed the situation there on Sunday.
Indonesia welcomes things required most now for relief efforts in Palu: aircraft that can land on a 2,000-meter runway, water and sanitation, tents, power generators, a field hospital and medical assistance, and fogging equipment.
“We need fogging to prevent diseases from decaying corpses which are still not found,” Nugroho said, adding that the government has prepared 1,000 body bags and started burying victims on Monday.
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