Devastation caused after soil was liquidised by the earthquake and tsunami

Officials in Indonesia say more than 5,000 people are feared missing after last month’s deadly earthquake and tsunami.

The grim estimate came as officials confirmed that 1,763 bodies have now been recovered from hard-hit areas.

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.

Officials are trying to confirm the number of people missing in several villages which were destroyed, Indonesia’s disaster agency said.

Houses were sucked deep into mud, burying occupants.

Central Sulawesi governor Loki Djanggola said monuments may be built in areas which now look like wastelands, to remember the victims buried there.

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.

Survivors from the villages of Petobo, Balaroa and Jono Oge are expected to be relocated.

Christians have been attending church in the city of 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,” said Min Kapala.

“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.

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