Palu, Oct 3 (AP/UNB) — The death toll from an earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia has increased to 1,407.
National disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in Jakarta on Wednesday afternoon that 519 of the bodies had been buried.
The magnitude 7.5 earthquake and the tsunami it generated devastated the city of Palu and nearby communities in Central Sulawesi province.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo visited the city Wednesday and said aid was starting to arrive.
Indonesia's military chief says soldiers and other forces have been deployed to the stricken port city of Palu to guard key infrastructure, fuel depots and the airport and stop any attempts at looting.
Chief Air Marshall Hadi Tjahyanto said Wednesday outside a collapsed hotel in the city that his forces were taking steps to ensure that security will be enforced. He spoke as many of the city and region's residents scrambled to get food, water and other supplies — with many resorting to taking things from shops and markets.
"Military personnel have been deployed to fuel depots, ATMs, markets and the airport to ensure that economic activities are running. It will give the sense of security to the people so hopefully there will be no more looting," he said, adding that all supply convoys into the city will be escorted by armed soldiers.
Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has arrived in a hard-hit city to see damage and recovery from the earthquake and tsunami that struck a central island last week.
Widodo was expected to tour various areas and visit a hospital Wednesday. The government has said hundreds of people were severely injured in Friday's disasters. And the official toll of 1,234 dead is expected to grow as more bodies are recovered in the damaged areas.
He said foreign aid is starting to reach the area. President Donald Trump called Widodo on Tuesday to offer assistance with both the emergency phase and reconstruction.
Widodo said there's still a lot of work to be done, but he added that conditions are improving.
"Logistics are in and continue to spread, there are places that we haven't reached," he said. "I've instructed the governor to recommend the markets to be re-opened, we want to start reviving the economy."
Aid was trickling into areas crippled by the devastating earthquake and tsunami on Indonesia's Sulawesi island, with residents in one neighborhood clapping, cheering and high-fiving at the arrival of a supply truck.
A man named Heruwanto said he was happy while clutching a box of instant noodles. "I really haven't eaten for three days."
Food, water, fuel and medicine had yet to reach the hardest-hit areas outside Palu, the largest city heavily damaged. Many roads in the earthquake zone are blocked and communications lines are down five days after the magnitude 7.5 earthquake and tsunami struck.
The official death toll reached 1,234, while scores of uncounted bodies could be buried in collapsed buildings.
The U.N. humanitarian office said people urgently require shelter, clean water, food, fuel and emergency medical care.
Australia will send more than 50 medical professionals to Indonesia to help with the aftermath of a devastating earthquake and tsunami as part of a 5 million Australian dollar ($3.6 million) aid package.
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne told reporters in Washington: "We will be working very closely with the Indonesian government to make sure that the support we are providing is highly targeted."
She says: "Australia is considering further support for the disaster, with the death toll expected to rise and millions affected by the crisis."
Payne says she has been in contact with her Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is continuing talks with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo about possible further support.
The U.N. says its humanitarian office is reporting that "needs are vast" following the earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia, with people urgently requiring shelter, clean water, food, fuel and emergency medical care.
U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said Tuesday that U.N. and relief agencies are on the ground or en route. He said the agencies are working closely with the government to provide technical support.
Haq told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York that water is the main issue because most of the water supply infrastructure has been damaged.
He says the Indonesian Ministry of Social Affairs has asked the U.N. children's agency, UNICEF, to send social workers to the affected area to support children who are alone or became separated from their families.
Haq says the World Health Organization is warning that a lack of shelter and damaged water sanitation facilities could lead to outbreaks of communicable diseases.
Birmingham, Oct 3 (AP/UNB) — Prime Minister Theresa May will urge her fractured Conservative Party to unite behind "decent, moderate and patriotic" policies, a day after her rival Boris Johnson challenged her authority with a crowd-pleasing speech of his own.
May is ending the party's annual conference Wednesday with a call for the party to show that it "delivers on the issues (voters) care about and is comfortable with modern Britain in all its diversity."
The four-day conference has been dominated by divisions over Brexit, with pro- and anti-EU camps both criticizing the prime minister's negotiations with the EU.
Johnson drew cheers from 1,500 delegates on Tuesday when he called May's plan an "outrage."
May acknowledged that Johnson's speech had made her "cross" but said she was sticking to her Brexit blueprint.
Dubai, Oct 3 (AP/UNB) — President Donald Trump says Saudi Arabia's king "might not be there for two weeks" without U.S. military support, as he sought to pressure the close American ally over rising oil prices.
Speaking at a campaign rally Tuesday night in Mississippi, Trump said: "I love the king, King Salman, but I said, 'King, we're protecting you. You might not be there for two weeks without us. You have to pay for your military, you have to pay.'"
Trump didn't elaborate on when he spoke to the king. Trump and King Salman last shared a reported telephone call on Saturday.
Benchmark Brent crude oil is near $85 a barrel — a four-year high — and analysts say it could reach $100. U.S. gasoline prices are up ahead of November midterm elections.
Jakarta, Oct 3 (AP/UNB) — A volcano erupted Wednesday on the same central Indonesian island as an earlier earthquake and authorities warned planes about volcanic ash in the air.
Mount Soputan in North Sulawesi province spewed ash 6,000 meters into the sky Wednesday morning.
The eruption status was raised from an alert to standby 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from the summit and up to 6.5 kilometers to the west-southwest. Standby status means the public should avoid the area nearest the volcano and have masks available in the event of ashfall.
No evacuations were immediately ordered.
Planes were warned of the ash clouds because volcanic ash is hazardous for plane engines.
Soputan is on the northern part of Sulawesi island, where a central region was severely damaged by an earthquake and tsunami Friday.
Indonesia, an archipelago of more than 250 million people, sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" and is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Government seismologists monitor more than 120 active volcanoes.
Kuala Lumpur, Oct 3 (AP/UNB) — The wife of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Wednesday was being grilled by the anti-graft agency for the third time over a massive graft scandal involving the 1MDB state investment fund.
Rosmah Mansor smiled at reporters but didn't speak as she was escorted into the agency's building. Her presence at the agency for the second time in a week fueled speculation that she could soon face criminal charges like her husband.
At the same time Wednesday, Najib turned up at the police commercial crime office, where he was summoned to answer further questions relating to the 1MDB scandal. He dodged reporters waiting for him outside the building.
Najib has pleaded not guilty to multiple counts of money laundering, corruption, abuse of power and criminal breach of trust over the scandal and will face trial next year. Rosmah was first summoned by the agency on June 5 and again on Sept. 26, when she was questioned for nearly 13 hours.
Malaysia's anti-graft chief, Mohamad Shukri Abdull, said last week that the agency had completed its probe of Rosmah and had submitted its investigation report to the attorney general's office for further action. It's unclear why she was being questioned again. Local media have reported that she could face up to 20 charges.
Rosmah, 66, is widely reviled for her opulent lifestyle and penchant for expensive jewelry and designer Birkin bags that led to her being compared with former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos and her extravagant collection of shoes.
Police found hundreds of luxury handbags, jewelry and cash — worth more than $266 million — during raids on apartments linked to the family shortly after Najib's shocking electoral defeat in May. Seized were 567 handbags, 423 watches and 12,000 pieces of jewelry, including 1,400 necklaces, 2,200 rings, 2,800 pairs of earrings and 14 tiaras. Najib has said the items were mostly gifts to his family.
In a biography in 2013, Rosmah said it was common for a prime minister's wife to receive expensive jewelry and gifts. She also said she had earned millions of ringgit from her own music album, which wasn't released to the public but was bought by government ministers who were fans of her singing talent.
Najib set up the 1MDB fund when he took power in 2009, but it accumulated billions in debts and is being investigated in the U.S. and several other countries. U.S. investigators say Najib's associates stole and laundered $4.5 billion from the fund from 2009 to 2014, some of which landed in Najib's bank account. They say $27.3 million was used to buy a rare diamond necklace for Rosmah.
Public anger over the scandal eventually led to the ouster of Najib's long-ruling coalition in May 9 elections that ushered in the first change of power since Malaysia's independence from Britain in 1957.
New Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad reopened investigations into 1MDB that were suppressed under Najib's rule. He has also banned the couple from leaving the country.
Police have said investigations show that $972 million was transferred into Najib's bank accounts from three companies linked to 1MDB. Najib, 65, has accused Mahathir's government of seeking political vengeance against him and his family.