92 detained for looting after natural disaster, tsunami in Indonesia

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Hidayat was not on Sulawesi last Friday when the 7.5 magnitude natural disaster struck, triggering a phenomenon called soil liquefaction, which turns the ground into a roiling quagmire.

"There is still limited information about the full extent of the disaster and it is hard to get aid and people into the affected areas", Jens Laerke, a spokesman for the main United Nations aid coordinating agency, OCHA, said in Geneva on Tuesday.

Save the Children said it has sent more than 1,000 kits to support shelter, hygiene, child-friendly spaces and temporary educational facilities.

Global aid offers have picked up since Jakarta's belated request for help, with the UN's Central Emergency Response Fund announcing late on Tuesday that it was releasing US$15 million (RM62.11 million) in aid.

"I'm so disappointed. They said they would come with the heavy machines but they didn't".

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said military transport aircraft from India and Singapore had arrived to help in the relief efforts, including transporting supplies and evacuating victims.

Military officials said Palu's airport is expected to reopen for civilian traffic later on Thursday. Hadisaputra explained that soldiers had initially tolerated looting in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, when vital resources were badly needed, and aid in short supply. Widodo, on his second visit to the disaster zone on Wednesday, acknowledged the aid effort had yet to reach maximum capacity.

More than 1200 people have died in central Sulawesi, which was hit with a quake and then a destructive tsunami last week.

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Ferdinandus Setu, communications ministry spokesman, said authorities had received several reports about suspected cases and were working to "ensure that Indonesia's internet sphere is free from hoaxes".

He was referring to the vast Balaroa government housing complex that was flattened by the quake.

At the heavily damaged Mercure hotel on Palu's waterfront, there was growing frustration in a French and Indonesian search team. "I've instructed the governor to recommend the markets to be re-opened, we want to start reviving the economy".

"What is important is we are alive and for that we should be grateful", he said.

"But there was no response, just silence".

There have been small signs of things returning to normal.

A quake in 2004 triggered a tsunami across the Indian Ocean that killed 226,000 people in 13 countries, including more than 120,000 in Indonesia.

The looting of stores and mini markets in Palu and the other city affected by the natural disaster, Donggala, entered a concerning level as people also targeted stores selling secondary goods other than stores selling staple foods and daily necessities, Xinhua news agency reported.

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