Indonesia quake kids traumatised as rescuers race against clock

Body bags after Indonesia disaster

The death toll is now above 1,500, but that could rise as central areas of the hard-hit island have not yet been reached.

"My immediate family is safe, thank God, but my cousin was killed", he told Reuters, adding that his family had got food and water in the past few days.

Most of the confirmed dead were in Palu and losses in remote areas remain unknown. "In the area to the south, because there hasn't been an evacuation, we don't know if there are bodies".

A week after a major quake brought devastation to Indonesia's Sulawesi island, the death toll has passed 1,500 and tens-of-thousands remain in urgent need of clean water, shelter and medical care.

The city, 1,500km northeast of Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, has teetered close to chaos this week, without breaks of looting, but a recovery was evident as some shops and banks reopened and a major mobile phone network was back up.

The military was deploying battalions to the hardest-hit two cities to ensure the security of stores and mini markets, so that people can buy food and groceries.

The State Disaster Agency warned people to stay at least 4km away, but said there was no need to evacuate for the time being.

More than 70,000 homes are thought to have been wrecked by the quake, demolished by the tsunami or engulfed by mud slides.

Electricity has been restored to some parts of Palu, the city of just over 370,000 residents that endured the brunt of the disaster.

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In the city's shattered Baiturrahman mosque - whose green dome collapsed into the prayer hall - 62-year-old Adan Abdurazak stood in tears in the place of worship where he had said his Friday prayers every week for the past 15 years.

"I understand that they need food, but they should have been able to provide themselves with food since their area was not destroyed by the quake", said Ali.

Some aid from Britain and Australia is also due to arrive on Thursday.

Indonesia has the world's biggest Muslim population but also pockets of Christians, including on Sulawesi, and other religions.

An airport damaged by the quake in central Indonesia is expected to re-open to civilian traffic later Thursday.

Getting vital supplies to the affected areas has proved hugely challenging, with the number of flights able to land at Palu's small airport still limited, leaving aid workers facing gruelling overland journeys.

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.

Indonesia and its 18,000 islands are located along the Pacific Ocean's "Ring of Fire" and are frequently struck by natural disaster, volcano and tsunami activity.

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