Indonesians search the rubble for loved ones after a 7.5 magnitude earthquake and tsunami devastated the area. With little food and clean drinking water, shops destroyed or empty, roads blocked and aid slow to arrive, the situation for survivors is dire.
Five days after the first tsunami waves crashed into Palu, Indonesia, bodies remain unburied on the sides of roads. In a public cemetery, workers are digging a mass grave the size of a soccer field to bury as many as quickly as possible.
Almost 200 bodies have been placed in the pit, with more being added by the hour.
“So many bodies haven’t been recovered yet,” Willem Rampangilei, head of Indonesia’s National Board for Disaster Management, told CNN.
In Palu, 20 foot tsunami waves crashed the beachfront, while hotels and shopping malls collapsed and whole neighborhoods were swallowed up by liquefaction.
“When the quake hit, the layers below the surface of the earth became muddy and loose,” said a spokesman for Indonesia’s national disaster mitigation agency. “Mud with such large mass volume drowned and dragged the housing complex in Petobo so that most of them became as if they were absorbed. We estimate 744 units of houses are there.”
Tens of thousands of buildings were destroyed or disappeared into the soil as a result of a process known as liquefaction. What is liquefaction and why are our earthquake-prone west coast cities so vulnerable to it? Geek out on it here.
The U.S. is expected to experience a major earthquake event a magnitude similar to that which Indonesia suffered in the next several years, according to some scientists. Are we ready? Let’s take a look.