Indonesia arrests dozens for looting in quake-tsunami zone

Evidence of the sheer power of the disaster that was unleashed on northern Sulawesi is everywhere (AFP pic)

JAKARTA: Indonesian police on Tuesday said they have arrested dozens of people for looting on the quake and tsunami-struck island of Sulawesi, where survivors have raided shops for water, food and other goods.

“On the first and second day clearly no shops were open. People were hungry. There were people in dire need. That’s not a problem,” said deputy national police chief Ari Dono Sukmanto.

“But after day two, the food supply started to come in, it only needed to be distributed.”

However, Sukmanto said that people grabbing food would still be tolerated.

Police in Palu has largely stood by, unable or unwilling to stop the looting.

AFP reporters on the ground have witnessed locals also looting clothes shops.

“If they take laptops, if they take money etc, we are going to act,” Sukmanto said. “We have detained 35 people.”

“There are ATMs. They are open,” he added. “If people steal, we catch and investigate.”