People in Indonesia are digging for bodies with their bare hands after a catastrophic earthquake because there's no rescue equipment

OLA GONDRONK/AFP/Getty ImagesA picture taken on September 29, 2018 shows a collapsed building after an earthquake and tsunami hit Palu, on Sulawesi island.
  • A magnitude 7.5 earthquake and a subsequent tsunami have killed more than 1,200 people, with the death toll expected to rise.
  • Rescuers have been forced to dig through mud, rubble, and debris with their hands as the damaged road and airport slowed the arrival of heavy machinery.
  • These conditions have also prevented the arrival of food and water in many areas, leading to reports of looting.
  • Tens of thousands of people are displaced and entire villages cut off as mass graves are dug for the dead.

Rescuers in Indonesia are using their hands to search for bodies and survivors in the aftermath of a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 1,000 people.

The serious damage from the natural disasters has also hindered the arrival of heavy machinery and rescue equipment, forcing survivors to turn to the only tools they have.

The official death toll has risen above 1,200, according to the Reuters news agency.

Dozens of people are thought to still be trapped in the rubble on the island of Sulawesi, which area worst-hit by the 7.5 earthquake, and the massive tsunami it brought with it on Friday.

The New York Times and the Guardian both observed people digging with their bare hands in Palu, the city hit by the disaster.

The death toll is expected to rise further as rescuers clear debris and find more bodies. Entire towns have yet to submit any account of those who died, which will likely drive the toll higher still.

An estimated 59,000 people have been displaced, and the lack of food and water has led to looting, the Guardian reported.

Local administrator Kasman Lassa told the Associated Press: “Everyone is hungry and they want to eat after several days of not eating.”

He says people going into shops “should take only cake, bread, rice. Do not take chairs, or television. Again, for cake, bread, rice, they can take it. The store owner also allows them to take food.”

The import of supplies has been limited by the damaged roads and airport.

These conditions have prevented rescue workers from reaching entire villages, according to the New York Times.

The bodies of some victims have been buried in a mass grave near Palu. The grave has space for more than 1,0000 people.

Palu is still without power, four days after the earthquake.

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