Indonesian island struggles to recover after triple hit

The death toll in last Friday’s earthquake and tsunami on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi has risen to 1,558, with thousands of people injured, and more than 70,000 displaced.

Officials fear the death toll will rise, though they say rescue crews have now reached all of the affected areas.

Rubble and debris from fallen buildings cover a cemetery in Donggala, Central Sulawesi province, Indonesia. (Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)

On Wednesday, a volcano erupted on the same central island, spewing ash more than 6,000 metres into the sky and adding to the fear and uncertainty faced by residents. Officials said the danger zone around the peak of Mount Soputan is small.

Mount Soputan, located around 1,000 km from Palu, the capital of Central Sulawesi province, erupted Wednesday night. Ash continued to spew into the air throughout Thursday. (Antara Foto/Adwit B Pramono/ via Reuters)

Officials have listed 113 people as missing across Sulawesi due to the disasters. Many families, though, never registered their losses with police, while others failed to identify them before they were buried anonymously in mass graves.

Until Wednesday, authorities had been photographing the bodies in hopes that relatives could identify them later. They had to stop because the decaying corpses posed a health hazard. 

Rescue personnel prepare the bodies of earthquake victims who will be buried in mass graves. (Muhammad Rifki/AFP/Getty Images)

Electricity has now been restored in parts of the city of Palu, the capital of Central Sulawesi province, where most of the aid effort has been focused. 

Tens of thousands of people are displaced, with many living outdoors in temporary shelters. (Antara Foto/Hafidz Mubarak/ via Reuters)

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By Thursday, some signs of recovery in the city of 370,000 were evident, with some shops and banks reopening, and a major mobile phone network restored.


Orderly queues formed at gas stations after the arrival of fuel shipments. Late in the day, traffic lights and televisions flickered back to life as the power came back on.

Indonesian police guard a gas station as people queue for fuel following widespread shortages. (Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)

Communities in more remote areas have been cut off by broken roads, landslides and crippled communications infrastructure, leaving people increasingly desperate for basic supplies as aid has only just begun to trickle through.

The United Nations says aid has reached some areas, although there are “vast” unmet needs across much of the island. (Mohd Rasfan/AFP/Getty Images)

About 1.4 million people were living in areas badly affected by the disasters. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

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