They did not just lose their loved ones, but many also lost their lives. According to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), the catastrophe has so far killed 1,234 people as of Tuesday.
The death toll is expected to increase because many people are predicted to be trapped under the rubble of destroyed buildings or buried after losing their homes on the day the disaster occurred.
Amid the grievances and hardship left behind, there is a heroic story that can be told from generation to generation. It is the story of the brave-heart of Anthonius Gunawan Agung, an employee of Palu-based AirNav Indonesia.
He will remain in the hearts and minds of the 155 people on board the Batik Air plane bound for Hasanuddin International Airport in South Sulawesi Province that could be airborne safely.
Agung will also remain in the minds and hearts of his colleagues and the people at large due to his dedication, professionalism, and brave heart that saved the lives of those in the commercial aircraft by risking his own life.
On the day the catastrophe occurred, as revealed in local media reports, Agung kept managing the last take-off though his colleagues hurriedly left the Mutiara Sis Al-jufri Airport`s Air Traffic Control tower after the strong tremors began shaking the building.
Instead of following his colleagues, he ensured that the Batik Air with flight number ID-6231 was airborne safely. "Safe flight Batik Air. Take care!" were recorded as the last words that Agung uttered to the pilot during their conversation.
Shortly after that, he attempted to escape the ATC tower that began shaking and collapsing but God had decided his destiny. His death saddened so many people who love him.
However, the good deeds and professionalism of this AirNav Indonesia`s air traffic controller will remain alive in the minds of his families, his colleagues, the pilot and those on board the plane, as well as the next Indonesian generation.
Agung`s sincerity toward his work needs to be an inspiration for those struggling for survival amid the shortage of food and water, military and police personnel securing the disaster zones, and humanitarian workers assisting the victims.
Therefore, the security apparatus on the ground should restore law and order in Palu, the capital city of Central Sulawesi Province, and in other disaster zones, so that those affected by the catastrophe can feel secure.
Certain individuals who rob, steal, and loot the properties of other people, who are also suffering from this devastating disaster, particularly goods which are not basic necessities, should be treated as criminals.
Amid the cries of displaced people in isolated areas who have not yet received aid packages, the looters of truckloads of aid packages and fuel have actually harmed the interests of a number of people in need.
Thus, for the sake of public security, they should also be regarded as criminals that the police and military personnel on the ground need to stop.
In response to these security challenges, National Police Spokesman Brig. Gen. Dedi Prasetyo said the police and military personnel were dispatched to safeguard several gas stations and mini-markets around Palu to prevent them from being looted.
"The police and military personnel will secure the gas stations and mini-markets to prevent a number of local people, in need of food, from robbing them," he said.
The police will also double their strength to secure Palu by deploying 2,000 extra personnel in the near future, as several fuel trucks of state-owned oil and gas company Pertamina began filling up the tanks of petrol stations around the city on Tuesday.
According to National Police Spokesman Inspector General Setyo Wasisto, the deployment of 2,000 extra personnel to the disaster-hit city of Palu is expected to enable local residents to resume their daily activities quicker.
The shortage of fuel stocks at the gas stations around the devastating city has disrupted the residents` mobility and hampered the police in optimizing their routine patrolling.
"Escorted by the police, several fuel trucks of state-owned oil and gas company Pertamina arrived in Palu. The fuel is expected to be distributed to petrol stations around the city so that people can resume their daily activities," he said.
Shortly after Palu, the capital city of Central Sulawesi Province was struck by the 7.4-magnitude earthquake and tsunami on September 28, which resulted in the loss at least 1,234 lives, and the National Police dispatched 500 personnel.
However, in strengthening the security measures around the city, at least 2,000 extra police personnel would be deployed to safeguard business centers and shops to prevent them from being looted.
Besides sending extra personnel, the National Police should also dispatch several trucks and motorbikes to support the mobility of policemen and enable them to intensify routine patrolling.
Securing the city and other disaster zones, including those in the districts of Donggala and Sigi is not merely the responsibility of the security apparatuses alone.
Instead, in helping on-duty law enforcers secure the city in the aftermath of the deadly catastrophe, Wasisto urged local residents to exercise self-restraint by not committing crimes and by assisting the police to restore law and order.
EDITED BY INE/H-YH