[WATCH] Indonesia: shots fired as desperation escalates

Desperate people in Palu in search of food, water and shelter clashed with police as hundreds tried to break into shops • Death toll is up to 844 as many bodies were pulled out from under rubble • Red Cross estimates that 1.6 million people have been affected by the earthquake-tsunami combination of Friday morning as the search for thousands more continues

As people attempted to raid stocked shops, police fired warning shots and threw tear gas
As people attempted to raid stocked shops, police fired warning shots and threw tear gas

Armed police guarding a shop in the city of Palu were pressured by desperate locals to let them in, which resulted in police firing warning shots and throwing tear gas. A few men threw stones at the police until the officers relented and backed away.

Following the earthquake in Sulawesi last Friday, thousands of Indonesians have lost their shelter and supplies and desperation is settling in. Routine services in the town have broken down, there's little to no power and scarce running water. So far, no foreign aid has been proferred.

Police made way as hundreds were allowed to break into the shops and take away anything they could to sustain their families. What was an initially a desperate struggle transformed into scenes of jubilation as the starving locals leapt out of the shops clutching bags of supplies.

The officers on site tried to prevent people from taking non-food items. People running off with their loot were stopped and made to empty their bags if they were suspected of taking toiletries, plastic toys and anything other than food.

Death toll doubles over weekend

Many people were pulled out from under the rubble of large infrastructure, many of them dead.

The bodies of 34 students were found in Sigi Biromaru, just outside Palu this morning. These were amongst the 86 students reported missing from a Bible camp in the Jonooge Church Training Centre. The whereabouts of the other 52 are as yet unknown.

Under the ruins of the Roa Roa Hotel in Palu, 12 people have been recovered, only three of whom came out alive. The estimated 38 still beneath the rubble are yet to be recovered.

"We have to be very careful so we don't risk hurting any survivors when we move the debris," the head of the rescue team, Agus Haryono, told Reuters.

Due to the inaccessible roads, damaged airport and port and debilitated communication lines, forthcoming aid to the hundreds suffering in Palu was stalled. Remote regions were impossible to reach.

With hospitals damaged, injured people have been treated in the open and at least one military field hospital has been set up.

The military has taken over the airport to fly aid in, and injured people and other evacuees out.

But for thousands of people wanting to get the first commercial flight out of Palu, the wait continues.

A total of 844 people have been killed but Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla believes that this could up well into the thousands.

The charity Save the Children says many of the children in Palu "will have experienced unimaginable trauma and distress".

"Losing their mother or father, and watching everything they have known washed away," said the charity's Tom Howells.

Many people are having to sleep in makeshift shelters or on the street, with little access to food, medication or emotional support, added Mr Howells.

Across the city, mass graves are being dug, one of them to hold up to 300 bodies.

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