Looting Arrives As Indonesian Earthquake Survivors Get Desperate

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Things are getting increasingly desperate in the Indonesian city of Palu, five days after an earthquake struck the city, reports CNN.

The death toll now stands at 1,234 as 34 bodies — mostly children — were discovered in a church hall just to the south of Palu. The local Red Cross found the bodies as part of a search for 86 children who were at the church for a Bible camp. Organizers said that it took an hour to carry the bodies out of the church hall, the structure itself located in a remote area where the camp was taking place.

For those that have survived the earthquakes that hit Palu, things are getting difficult. Very little food has been making it into the city since the disaster occurred, and no new supply of clean drinking water has been delivered in the last five days.

Survivors have been waiting in lines for hours to get any supplies. At the last gas station with remaining fuel in town, there was a line for hours. One poor attendant spent his day simply filling portable cans for hours, gathering bundles of rupiah that he could barely hold on to. He may have made plenty of money yesterday — but with nothing to buy, that will mean little to him or his employers in the present.

Roads leading to and from the town have been at least partially blocked off, which has made getting aid to the city difficult. Some aid from other parts of the island of Sulawesi has made it to Palu, despite all odds. The Indonesian government has promised that aid will be sent by the navy — but it hasn’t arrived in the area yet.

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What little goods remain in the city have largely been looted as survivors ransack what few storefronts have remained standing in the town. Local reports have shown military personnel — stationed to support the relief effort — chasing looters out of stores that have been completely stripped of supplies.

The federal police reported on Tuesday that 49 people have been arrested for theft or looting since the disaster hit.

Over 3,500 officials and volunteers have arrived in the city to try and help with the relief effort. Over 2,000 of them are police officers or military personnel.

The deceased are strewn all over Palu, with several remaining unburied at roadsides throughout the city. Many bodies requiring burial have been placed in a mass grave the size of a soccer field on the outskirts of the city, with 200 sets of human remains interred there already.