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Jakarta Post

One year on: Palu gets slowly back on its feet

Fri, October 18, 2019   /   02:36 pm
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    Children play in front of the Argam Bab Al Rahman Mosque on Talise Beach, Palu, Central Sulawesi. JP/Rosa Panggabean

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    Several buildings in the Warehouse Complex, which remained intact after the earthquake, are put to use. JP/Rosa Panggabean

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    Shrubs grow in Petobo village, which was struck by soil liquefaction in September 2018. JP/Rosa Panggabean

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    A road impacted by soil liquefaction in Petobo village, Palu, Central Sulawesi. It has remained unchanged one year on. JP/Rosa Panggabean

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    Tomatoes appear in areas where soil liquefaction occurred in Petobo village. JP/Rosa Panggabean

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    Residents cross the road amid temporary housing in Petobo village, Palu, Central Sulawesi. JP/Rosa Panggabean

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    Cattle are silhouetted against temporary housing in Petobo village. JP/Rosa Panggabean

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    Resident Ilham stands in front of Petobo village. JP/Rosa Panggabean

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    People go back to work on Talise Beach, Palu, Central Sulawesi. JP/Rosa Panggabean

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    Cafes along Talise Beach. JP/Rosa Panggabean

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    Fishing boats on Talise Beach. JP/Rosa Panggabean

Rosa Panggabean

On the first day I arrived in Central Sulawesi’s Palu, an ojek (motorcycle taxi) driver called Juaenun drove me to the Argam Bab Al Rahman Mosque, otherwise known as the Floating Mosque.

Half of the mosque was inundated by seawater after a 7.4-magnitude earthquake and an ensuing tsunami struck the city in September 2018.

The disaster claimed 2,141 lives and damaged thousands of buildings in the city.

I heard him saying softly, “It will take a long, long time before everything returns to normal. A long time.”

These words echoed in my ears as I traveled along Talise Beach, where piles of debris were still scattered on the roadside.

In Petobo and Balaroa, areas impacted by soil liquefaction, houses were still in ruins. Where there used to be a village in Petobo, now there was no sign of life.

But life in Palu was slowly returning back to normal. Fishermen went back to the sea, while farmers went back to the fields two months after the disaster. All acknowledged their great fear of the ocean, but they fought back to survive and to make a living. [wng]