More than 5,000 people are feared missing in Indonesia after last month’s deadly earthquake and tsunami, officials have said.
The grim estimate came as officials confirmed that 1,763 bodies have now been recovered from hard-hit areas.
The search for survivors will end on Thursday, the country’s disaster agency has said.
“Evacuation stops on 11 October,” spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho confirmed.
Entire neighbourhoods disappeared in the twin disaster and were buried under mountains of mud and wreckage, making it difficult to know exactly how many people are missing.
Houses were sucked deep into mud, burying occupants.
On Saturday, 34 bodies were removed from a single location.
Many of the dead have been found in the city of Palu, while accurate figures for more remote areas have been difficult to come by.
While hundreds of bodies are believed to be interred, officials say it is not safe to use heavy equipment in areas where loose soil was turned into mud.
It is also feared that decomposing bodies could spread disease.
Parks and sports venues may eventually be built in destroyed areas, Mr Nugroho said.
“We don’t want the community to be relocated to such dangerous places,” he said.
Some 70,000 people have been displaced, and a major aid operation is underway.
Aircraft, generators, tents, water treatment and field medical facilities are among the items the Indonesian government is most in need of.
Christians have been attending church in Palu, including one woman whose normal place of worship in an outlying area was destroyed.
“I’m here because my own church is no more,” Min Kapala said.
“It’s levelled, and on its location there’s a corn plant,” the 49-year-old teacher added. “That was very strange to me.”
The priest at the Protestant Manunggal church, Lucky Malonda, said the disaster was the work of God.
“This is for sure part of godly intervention, not outside the power of almighty God, that can’t be predicted or planned for by anything,” he said.
Two people from his congregation are missing.
From – SkyNews