UN mobilizing to help Indonesia after quake, tsunami

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) – The UN said Monday it is "mobilizing" to assist government-led rescue and recovery efforts in Indonesia after a devastating earthquake and tsunami resulted in mass devastation on the island of Sulawesi.

"I have been following the unfolding tragedy in Indonesia; our hearts go out to all affected by the earthquake & tsunami," Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Twitter. "My deepest condolences to all who have lost family and friends."

Guterres did not specify what precisely the UN is preparing to do to bolster Jakarta's response efforts but his spokesman, Farhan Haq, told reporters at organization’s New York headquarters the Indonesian government on Monday accepted offers of international assistance.

A 7.7-magnitude quake hit the island of Sulawesi on Friday, triggering a tsunami and claiming more than 1,200 lives in the island’s capital, Palu, according to Indonesia's disaster management authorities.

Haq warned the death toll, which the UN placed at 800, was likely to increase as additional areas become accessible.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo visited Palu to inspect the extent of the disaster and ongoing relief efforts. Widodo asked military and police commanders to deploy troops to help rescue teams and to secure the region.

The disaster in Central Sulawesi could be Indonesia’s second-largest tragedy, following the 2004 Aceh tsunami that killed more than 170,000 people.