Rescuers deployed to Donggala, Palu`s disaster zones: minister

Rescuers deployed to Donggala, Palu`s disaster zones: minister

Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Wiranto (ANTARA FOTO/Reno Esnir)

Jakarta, (ANTARA News) - Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto said a joint evacuation team had been deployed to the disaster zones of Donggala District and Palu city, Central Sulawesi Province, on Friday evening.

"We dispatch the military personnel from several areas which are not far from the disaster zones, including Gorontalo, Mamuju, Parigi Moutong, and Makassar," he told journalists in a press conference here on early Saturday.

The military personnel, assisted by local police and volunteers, went to the disaster zones through land because the Mutiara Sis Al Jufri Airport got damaged by the 7.4-magnitude earthquake so that it could not yet be landed by aircraft, he said.

"The only aircraft that can land on the airport`s runway is the C-130 Hercules because 500 meters of its 2,500-long runway has been damaged by the 7.4-magnitude earthquake," he said.

To meet the daily necessities of the earthquake and tsunami victims, several trucks carrying supplies of food and kitchen equipment had also been sent from Makassar, the capital city of South Sulawesi Province, to Palu.

The trucks would stop over at Parigi Moutong District before going to Palu, the capital city of Central Sulawesi. Several vessels would also be dispatched to Palu and Donggala for supporting the disaster relief operations, he said.

As of early Saturday, the communication networks in the disaster zones were still disrupted. Therefore, the government would temporarily provide satellite phones to make the disaster relief operations get easily coordinated on the ground, he said.

Due to this condition, the government could not yet determine the number of casualties.

"For the time being, we are providing satellite phones because the communication systems in the disaster zones still get failed, and we are attempting to fix the cellular networks there," he said.

Certain parts of Central Sulawesi, especially the areas of Donggala District and Palu, the province`s capital city, were rocked by a 7.4-magnitude earthquake on Friday afternoon.

The Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) issued a tsunami warning following the earthquake. The tremors of the strong earthquake were also felt by those living in Mamuju District, around 237 km away from Donggala District.

In response to this catestrophe, President Joko Widodo has expressed his condolences to those affected by the earthquake and tsunami.

Reporting by Indra Arief Pribadi
Editing by Eliswan Azly