At least 70 children are still missing after the earthquake and tsunami that hit the island of Celebes on September 28 and left more than 2,100 dead, the Ministry of Social Affairs of Indonesia said today.
The total number of official missing from the disaster is 680, but authorities estimate that about 5,000 people could be under the rubble in the most affected areas, where they have already completed the search.
The director of Children's Social Rehabilitation of the Ministry, Nahar, told Efe in a telephone conversation that the figure comes from the register of parents and relatives who are looking for the children and added that five families outside the 70 have already met.
NGOs in the field and the Indonesian Commission for the Protection of Children (KPAI) have warned of the vulnerability of minors to trafficking in persons, sexual abuse and the loss of possessions in the absence of identity documents.
In addition, organizations such as Save the Children carry out food and psychological assistance work in the province of Central Celebes, as well as the training of volunteers and teachers through courses that focus on the protection of children.
The quake has disrupted the education of more than 177,000 students between pre-school and high school education, according to the spokesman of the National Agency for Disaster Management, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, this week.
Tank helicopters sprayed disinfectant on Thursday to prevent diseases in the towns where the majority of buried bodies, Petobo, Balaroa and Jono Oge, are located, which are located in the capital of Central Celebes, Palu, or its surroundings.
The neighborhood of Balaroa and the villages of Petobo and Jono Oge were affected by the liquefaction of soil, a phenomenon that occurs when a strong earthquake strikes a dirt floor with little solid and large pockets of water, which releases a large amount of mud that drags the buildings.
According to the latest official account, the disaster in Celebes caused the death of 2,103 people and left 4,612 seriously injured, which makes it the worst natural tragedy that Indonesia has suffered since the tsunami that swept the province of Aceh in 2004.
Indonesia is based on the so-called "Pacific Ring of Fire", an area of great seismic and volcanic activity.