Students trickle back to school in Indonesia's disaster zone

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published 2 weeks ago - Duration: 01:39s

Indonesia sends children back to school ten days after a quake and tsunami devastated the city of Palu.

Students are pitching in to help clean up their classrooms and also providing a vital headcount for officials still trying to tally the loss of life.

Eve Johnson reports.

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Students trickle back to school in Indonesia's disaster zone

School is back in session ten days after an earthquake and tsunami devastated the Indonesian city of Palu.

Authorities calling students back to the classroom on Monday (October 8) to help clean up and to provide a headcount as they try to figure out how many children survived the disaster, and how many are not coming back.

The official death toll stands at around 1,700.

But according to officials from two hard-hit areas in the city, 5000 more may still be missing although Indonesia's disaster relief agency says that figure isn't official yet.

(SOUNDBITE) (Bahasa Indonesia) INDONESIA NATIONAL DISASTER MITIGATION AGENCY SPOKESMAN SUTOPO PURWO NUGROHO, SAYING: "It's not easy to record bodies still buried by rubble from landslides or mud, and efforts are still underway." As hopes fade for survivors authorities say they'll call off search and rescue operation on Thursday (October 11).

Meanwhile, schools are trying to provide much-needed support.

(SOUNDBITE) (Bahasa Indonesia) PRINCIPAL OF PALU STATE 3 SECONDARY SCHOOL, KASILUDIN TAHIYA, SAYING: "We're trying to help the children overcome their trauma and strengthen their spirits so that they will want to come back." But the empty hallways are also a grim reminder.

At one school fewer than 50 out of nearly 700 students showed up.

The principle said that so far only a handful of those missing had been confirmed dead.

Many, he said, are struggling with fear and not ready to go back to school just yet.

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