Indonesia’s grim search for disaster dead draws to a close

PALU, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia’s search for victims buried in Palu neighborhoods annihilated by an earthquake and tsunami is drawing to a close almost two weeks after the double disasters hit the remote city.

Authorities say the official search and rescue effort will end Thursday with mass prayers in areas such as Balaroa and Petobo, where the force of the quake liquefied soft soil and tore apart neighborhoods.

Volunteers and relatives of the missing are allowed to continue the grim searches of their own accord and disaster relief operations to support the tens of thousands left homeless are continuing.

The official death toll rose to 2,065 as of late Wednesday. Officially, 680 people are missing but officials have acknowledged the number could be several thousand because hundreds of homes were sucked into the earth.