Foreign aid is making its way to Indonesia to help hundreds of thousands in need following an earthquake and tsunami. The death toll, which has passed 1,400, could jump once access is gained to cut-off areas.Desperately needed foreign aid was due to arrive in Indonesia on Thursday, to help devastated communities as they face the aftermath of a 7.5-magnitude earthquake and tsunami.
The country's National Disaster Management Agency said at least 1,424 people were dead and almost 2,550 injured after the earthquake struck and caused tsunami wavesto hit Indonesia's Sulawesi island. Agency spokesman Sutopo Nugroho said more than 70,000 people have been forced from their homes.
The United Nations estimated that nearly 200,000 people are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, with more than 1.5 million people affected by the disaster.
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Sutopo said 11 aircraft from Singapore, South Korea, Japan and other countries would help transport aid and two Hercules C-130 cargo aircraft from Singapore were already on standby in the city of Balikpapan on the island of Borneo.
Australia's first delivery of supplies was expected to reach central Sulawesi late Thursday, Royal Australian Air Force Captain Bryan Parker said.
An Australian air force C-130 Hercules plane was loaded with what he described as family kits comprising clothing, bedding, food-making equipment, tarpaulins and tools for building shelters, and is expected to assist up to 10,000 people.
Parker said Australian officials are ready to help the Indonesians transfer the aid further in the disaster zone, and that the number of plane loads of aid flown in from Darwin would depend on future Indonesian requests for help.
The aid is part of a $3.6-million (3.13 million) relief commitment, including the help of more than 50 medical professionals that Australia made on Wednesday.
Authorities fear the death toll could jump once access is gained into nearby remote areas cut off from aid due to impassable roads. So far, the death toll has mostly been made up of deaths in the small city of Palu, 1,500 km (930 miles) northeast of Jakarta.
law/ng (AP, dpa)