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South African aid group arrives in Indonesia

The group sent by the Gift of the Givers is in Indonesia to assist with the international call for humanitarian aid after last week’s magnitude tremor and tsunami.

Indonesian K9 police unit searches for victims in Palu, in Indonesia's Central Sulawesi on 5 October 2018, following the 28 September earthquake and tsunami. Picture: AFP.

JAKARTA - A team sent by disaster relief organisation the Gift of the Givers will now be able to take a commercial flight into the city of Palu after the 7.5 magnitude earthquake caused the local airport to shut down as a result of the destruction.

The group is in Indonesia to assist with the international call for humanitarian aid after last week’s magnitude tremor hit the west coast of Sulawesi, causing a tsunami and liquefaction which leads to soil swallowing buildings and victims.

Aid organisations have struggled to reach the city of Palu due to the wreckage - causing high levels of desperation among locals - with some now making their own makeshift homes from the rubble.

At least 1,400 people have been killed, with the death toll expected to rise as searchers have now changed their mission to that of extracting bodies instead of looking for survivors.

After arriving in the early hours of Friday morning in Jakarta, the team of paramedics, firefighters, doctors and a few journalists remain in the capital city until flights can be arranged to Palu.

Gift of the Givers team leader Ahmad Bham says the airport in Palu was closed but since its re-opening, there is a drive to get as much aid in as possible.

"The urgent needs in the disaster areas include food, water and shelter."

The foundation’s supplies - which include medical equipment - also remain in South Africa and are expected to arrive in Jakarta on Saturday evening.