Indonesian rescuers retrieved more bodies from the rubble of homes and buildings toppled by a 6.2 magnitude earthquake, raising the death toll to 56 on Sunday, while military engineers managed to reopen ruptured roads to clear access for relief goods.
More heavy equipment reached the hardest-hit city of Mamuju and the neighboring district of Majene on Sulawesi island, where the quake hit Friday night, said Raditya Jati, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency’s spokesperson.
Power supply and phone communications also began to improve.
Thousands were left homeless and more than 800 have been injured, more than half still receiving treatment for serious injuries, Jati said. A total of 47 people died in Mamuju and nine in Majene.
Jati said at least 415 houses in Majene were damaged and about 15,000 people were moved to shelters. The agency is still collecting data from the area.
The disaster agency said the army corps of engineers cleared the road connecting Mamuju and Majene that was blocked by landslides. They also rebuilt a damaged bridge.
Bodies retrieved by rescuers were sent to a police hospital for identification by relatives, West Sulawesi police spokesperson Syamsu Ridwan said on Saturday.
He said more than 200 people were receiving treatment in the Bhayangkara police hospital and several others in Mamuju alone. Another 630 were injured in Majene.
Among those pulled alive was a young girl who was stuck in the wreckage of a house with her sister.
The girl was seen in video released by the disaster agency Friday crying for help. She was being treated in a hospital.
She identified herself as Angel and said that her sister, Catherine, who did not appear in the video, was beside her under the rubble and was still breathing.
The fate of Catherine and other family members was unclear.
Landslides, power outages
The quake set off landslides in three locations and blocked a main road connecting Mamuju to Majene. Power and phone lines were down in many areas.
Mamuju, the capital of West Sulawesi province with nearly 75,000 people, was strewn with debris from collapsed buildings. A governor office building was almost flattened by the quake and a shopping mall was reduced to a crumpled hulk. A large bridge collapsed and patients with drips laid on folding beds under tarpaulin tents outside one of the damaged hospitals.
Two hospitals in the city were damaged and others were overwhelmed.
Many survivors said that aid had not reached them yet due to damaged roads and disrupted communications.
Video from a TV station showed villagers in Majene, some carrying machetes, forcibly stopping vehicles carrying aid. They climbed onto a truck and threw boxes…