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Death toll climbs to 1203; foreign aid welcome, says government


Jakarta, The death toll in the Friday's earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia has risen to 1,203 and is likely to go up, and the government of President Joko Widodo on Monday said it would accept foreign aid for disaster relief and rehabilitation. Vice President of the Team of Quick Action (ACT) Insan Nurrohman said the death toll could rise as there were many missing, including 61 foreign nationals, and 540 seriously injured being treated at a number of hospitals. "Death victims reached 1,203 in a number of spots. The largest was in Petobo, which was swept and leveled to the ground by the tsunami," he said. Insan said 16,732 people were in evacuation camps in 123 locations in the city of Palu, districts of Donggala, Sigi and Parigi Moutong. Last night, President Widodo authorised the Investment Coordinating Board to accept international help for urgent disaster response and relief, Thomas Lembong, head of the Board, said in a tweet. Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, said he had coordinated the matter with Foreign Affairs Minister Retno L. P. Marsudi. "I just contacted the foreign affairs minister in New York. She said that the president has expressed willingness to accept international assistance in accordance with our needs. It means we welcome international offers. It will be later coordinated with the coordinating minister for political, legal, and security affairs," news agency Antara quoted him as saying. The Foreign Affairs Ministry and the disaster mitigation agency are preparing the mechanism and procedures in line with the existing regulations, he added. He, however, said the government will not declare the earthquake and tsunami in Palu and Donggala a national disaster, although the government welcomes foreign aid.

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