Warship evacuates hundreds from quake-struck Palu

The ship came loaded with humanitarian aid to be distributed to those still suffering after Friday’s quake (AFP pic)

PALU: Some 1,600 survivors from Indonesia’s earthquake and tsunami were whisked to safety by a Navy warship Wednesday, providing much-needed relief for a lucky few after five days marked by shortages and grief.

The KRI Makassar docked at the devastated city of Palu in central Sulawesi to take families, the elderly and the infirm to the relative safety of Makassar in the island’s south.

The ship came loaded with humanitarian aid “which will be distributed in Central Sulawesi, especially Palu and Donggala” said Palu Navy base commander Tommy Herlambang.

In anticipation of the return voyage, old women on wheelchairs were lifted aboard the vessel as military doctors examined patients and parents distracted children with lollipops and toys.

In the cargo bay, clusters of families sat around on blankets as if picnicking in the park.

“We want to find safety because we heard the mud has started to move again,” said Rusella, one of the evacuees.

Friday’s quake reduced buildings to rubble around Palu and left more than 1,400 people dead.

A further 200,000 people in the vicinity of the quake need urgent assistance, according to the UN’s humanitarian affairs office.