NEWS
02/10/2018 08:53 BST | Updated 02/10/2018 10:26 BST

Indonesia Tsunami Death Toll Surges As Satellite Images Reveal Scale Of Destruction

People are being buried in mass graves.

The confirmed death toll from an earthquake and tsunami on Indonesia’s Sulawesi island has risen to 1,234, from 844, the national disaster mitigation agency said on Tuesday.

Indonesian Red Cross officials told the BBC that 34 Indonesian students were among those killed after their bodies were found under a church buried by a mudslide.

A 7.5 magnitude earthquake on Friday triggered tsunami waves as high as six metres (20 feet), which swept ashore at the small city of Palu, on the west coast of Sulawesi.

Before and after satellite images have also been released showing the scale of the devastation.

Rescuers are yet to reach many affected areas, leading to fears the death toll could rise again.

Residents of the town closest to the epicentre of the earthquake, which devastated parts of the island. have begged the country’s president to help them.

Most of the attention so far has focused on the biggest affected city, Palu – home to 380,000 people – but people in many outlying areas are still waiting for assistance.

Donggala and other outlying areas have received little assistance, largely due to impassable roads, the Press Association reports.

Local administration head Kasman Lassa said residents should take only food staples from shops.

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Houses and vehicles damaged by earthquake and tsunami are seen on Talise beach area, Palu, Central Sulawesi.

“Everyone is hungry and they want to eat after several days of not eating,” Lassa said.

“We have anticipated it by providing food, rice, but it was not enough. There are many people here. So, on this issue, we cannot pressure them to hold much longer.”

Desperation was visible everywhere among victims receiving little aid. In Palu, signs propped along roads read “We Need Food” and “We Need Support,” while children begged for cash in the streets and long lines of cars snarled traffic as people waited for fuel.

Teams were searching for trapped survivors under destroyed homes and buildings, including a collapsed eight-storey hotel in the city, but they needed more heavy equipment to clear the rubble.

JEWEL SAMAD via Getty Images
Indonesian soldiers burying quake victims in a mass grave in Poboya in Indonesia's Central Sulawesi on 2 October.

Many people are believed to be trapped under shattered houses in Balaroa, where the earthquake caused the ground to heave up and down violently.

In the Petobo area, the quake caused loose, wet soil to liquefy, creating a heavy mud that resulted in massive damage. “In Petobo, it is estimated that there are still hundreds of victims buried in mud,” Nugroho said.

Residents who found loved ones – alive and dead – over the weekend expressed frustration that it took rescue teams until Monday to reach Petobo.