Indonesia's disaster agency says the death toll from the quake and tsunami that struck central Sulawesi island a week ago has surged past 1,500.
The official death toll from the September 28 disaster rose to 1,763.
Despite that, Allibert said it had been hard to get permits for Sulawesi.
A team of French rescue experts began hunting through a huge expanse of debris on the outskirts of the Indonesian city of Palu yesterday, looking for hands, feet or any body parts of natural disaster victims sticking out of the mud.
"Based on reports from the (village) heads of Balaroa and Petobo, there are about 5,000 people who have not been found", agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told reporters yesterday.
Rocked by back-to-back disasters of an quake and a tsunami, the scale of the devastation on Sulawesi island is still being uncovered.
The victims can be considered "martyrs", he said.
The natural disaster triggered tsunami waves that reached six meters.
Things are even more desperate in remoter areas.
'Most of the bodies we have found are not intact, and that poses a danger for the rescuers.
Indonesia has traditionally been reluctant to be seen as relying on outside help to cope with disasters, and the government shunned foreign aid this year when earthquakes struck the island of Lombok.
"They really need help", said Sidharta.
National disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said 11 transport aircraft have been pledged, including two each from Singapore, South Korea, the United Kingdom and Malaysia, and one from India.
Indonesia sits along the world's most tectonically active region, and its 260 million people are vulnerable to earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions.
But the trickle of worldwide aid to Palu and local efforts to help the survivors have accelerated in recent days.
While aid is finally reaching isolated communities in Indonesia, many Indonesians in Canada are finally finding out the fate of their family members in the disaster zone.
He provided the updated figure Saturday at a news conference in Jakarta.
Prasetyo noted that the president has encouraged economic activities to restart but that businesses can't do that without security.
The quakes and tsunami have forced a total of 62,359 Indonesians to flee their homes and take shelter in makeshift tents and under tarpaulins at 147 evacuation centers, he added.
"The search for the victim is expected to be completed on Thursday", Sutopo told Xinhua. Ships and more than two dozen military transport planes, including ones from Japan, New Zealand and India, have arrived in Palu carrying hundreds of tons of food and badly needed supplies and heavy equipment.
Several other nations have also sent planeloads of aid.
Two of his soldiers emerge from the ditch with the bag sagging in the middle but looking too light to be a corpse - they said they had found the heads of two adults and one child. "Red Cross!" as one of its medical teams arrived.
The official death toll rose to 1,948 and bodies are still being recovered.
Life is on hold for thousands living in tents and shelters in the Indonesian city hit by a powerful natural disaster and tsunami.
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