In Indonesia, parents wait for children’s bodies to be pulled from church wreckage


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JONO OGE, Indonesia — The excavator clawed at the beige-colored pillars that jutted oddly from the debris. Then, it scooped concrete and wood and other remains of Jono Oge Protestant Church, including its metal cross.

Muis Pangallo watched the digging on Friday as he had done every day for the past week, hoping to recover the body of his daughter, Sharon Parilla.

The 17-year-old was among dozens of children attending a bible camp at the church when the 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck last week.

“Yesterday I found her jacket,” said, Pangallo, 45, his voice cracking, “I hope I can find her just to see her again.”

Jono Oge is one of several communities in the Palu city region that was hit by the devastating effects of liquefaction — a phenomenon in which an earthquake turns loose, wet soil into quicksand-like mud.

Search crews, volunteers and heavy machinery were struggling to unearth victims from the churned ground that had literally sucked houses and people into it. The grim task is now more difficult as the mud hardens in the tropical sun.

The national disaster agency says 1,700 homes in one neighborhood alone were swallowed and hundreds of people killed.

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