Search called off in Indonesian quake-tsunami

Soldiers and rescue workers carry the remains of recovered victims in Balaroa neighbourhood in Palu

Indonesia, one of the most disaster-prone nations on earth, straddles the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide and numerous world's volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.

The nighttime quake was centred at sea, 55 kilometres northeast of Situbondo city.

According ot the US Geological Survey, the magnitude 6.0 quake's epicentre was about 40 km north-east of Sumberanyar on nearby Java island.

"The natural disaster happened early Thursday when they were sleeping and the quake suddenly rocked so they didn't have time to evacuate", Sutopo said.

Bali is now hosting the 2018 Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group with over 19,000 delegates and guests in attendance.

"I am sure Central Sulawesi will rise again", he said in a statement.

Some tourists and residents on Bali went outdoors as a precaution but then back to sleep when there was no tsunami warning.

A string of earthquakes in Lombok in eastern Indonesia killed more than 550 people over the summer.

"The national search and rescue agency will handover its task to the Palu city search and rescue agency and they will continue the work", National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) spokesperson Sutopo Nugroho said.

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Almost 80,000 people were displaced by the disaster, many sheltering in tents outside their destroyed homes.

Possibly 5,000 people were buried in places where the natural disaster caused liquefaction, a phenomenon where wet soil weakens and collapses, becoming mud that sucks houses and everything else into the ground in a quicksand-like effect.

"The search and rescue operation for the victims will end this Thursday afternoon", said Bambang Suryo, field director in Palu.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said waves less than 0.3 meter high could be expected on coastlines in Papua New Guinea and neighboring Solomon Islands.

Along with the devastating death toll around 70,000 people are believed to be displaced from their homes, many families with children are among them.

"Are they going to ask our permission before they convert this into a mass graveyard?", he added.

After appealing for worldwide assistance, Indonesia is now trying to limit foreign involvement in disaster relief. Nugroho said there's no need for global aid other than the four priorities identified by Indonesia - tents, water treatment units, generators and transport.

Global aid groups with Indonesian sister organizations say foreign personnel they want to send are being vetted by the government in a process that takes several days or longer.

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