South African aid group arrives in Indonesia

Body bags after Indonesia disaster

Image His body is buried with others in a sandy pit

The Philippines is prepared to provide financial aid and send a humanitarian team to Indonesia following the devastating natural disaster and tsunami that hit Sulawesi island, President Duterte said Friday.

The national disaster agency says more than 148 million Indonesians are at risk in earthquake-prone areas and 3.8 million people also face danger from tsunamis, with at most a 40 minute window for warning people to flee.

The national disaster agency says 1,700 homes in one neighbourhood alone were swallowed up and hundreds of people killed.

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

"But we still can not be sure because there's a possibility that some people managed to get out", he said.

Rescuers seeking survivors are focusing on half a dozen key sites around Palu, including a shopping mall and the Balaroa area where the sheer force of the quake turned the earth temporarily to mush. "There's no way we can get treatment here".

Frustrated French rescuers resumed their search at the Mercure Hotel in Palu on Friday but failed to detect the possible sign of life that was picked up by their sensors a day earlier.

The powerful quake and tsunami that struck Palu and surrounding areas on September 28 left at least 1,649 people dead.

He told SBS News some areas of Palu have been completely "obliterated" with more than 65,000 homes destroyed.

But for the area to recover fully from the disaster "will take years", he added.

Some 130 million Indonesians - about half the population - spend an average of almost three-and-a-half hours a day on social media, one of the highest rates in the world, according to data from London-based creative agency We Are Social and social media management platform Hootsuite. The United Nations has said some 200,000 people, including tens of thousands of children, are in need of help. "Indonesians have a big heart".

About 20 planes carrying vital supplies such as tarpaulins, medical equipment and generators are heading from all over the world to the disaster zone after a long delay.

Twenty-nine countries have pledged aid, according to Indonesia, but the delay in inviting help and severed transport links means little foreign help has arrived.

Worldwide aid is beginning to arrive, including supplies from Britain and Australia, after the government overcame a traditional reluctance to accept help from overseas. Emergency services have been burying people as they are found after the disaster, which killed more than 1,550 people in and around the port city of Palu on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.

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