Ira Taliki and her son Gaza survived the earthquake. Picture: Sihle Mlambo

Palu - A 35-year-old woman who survived the deadly earthquake in Balaroa, Palu, said her house moved at least 300 metres on that fateful day.

At the Balaroa site, thousands of houses were destroyed including a Mosque.

Almost 2000 people have been confirmed dead due to the tsunami and earthquake in Palu. More than 5000 bodies are feared to be buried under the rubble.

Ira Taliki, 35, was doing drawings in her studio when she felt the earth shake. She grabbed her 9-year-old son Gaza and her mother and they left the house safely. 

The earthquake left the freelance graphic designer with nothing but the clothes she had on her body. She also lost two family members.

People in Balaroa, Palu, are still searching for loved ones 9 days after the earthquake. Picture: Sihle Mlambo

For the first time, she returned to the site of the destruction on Monday in Balaroa, Palu. 

“My house was 300 to 400 metres from here, on higher ground,” she said. 

People in Balaroa, Palu, are still searching for loved ones 9 days after the earthquake. Picture: Sihle Mlambo

Her house, along with that of her neighbours', were among the hundreds destroyed. 

The government has proposed calling off the search and converting to mass graves. Taliki supports the idea. 

Video: Sihle Mlambo

“From my personal perspective, I agree about making a  mass grave and making a monument to remember those that lost their lives here. For me, it's a good idea to stop the search,” she said.

Taliki said her uncle and his wife may have been killed in the earthquake, with authorities recovering the body of the wife, but the uncle remained unretrieved.

Her body was found near the site of a collapsed mosque, her body travelled hundreds of metres from her house too.

“I wake up every day and I hope it was all a bad dream. I wake up and I think what am I going to do today, because I lost everything, I have no job and it's just these clothes that I have,” she said.

Another man, AR Rahman, sobbed as he spoke about how five of his family members remained trapped below the rubble.

He had been on the other side of Palu when the earthquake hit, surviving, but his in-laws and the rest of his family were not so fortunate.

“I was lucky enough not to be here, but at the same time, I have lost my family, that is the hard part of it.

“Whatever has happened has happened, please bring help to the people of Indonesia, so that these kinds of things won't happen again,” he said.

* Cash contributions to assist the victims of the disaster can be deposited into Gift of the Givers, Standard Bank, Pietermaritzburg, Account No. 052278611, Branch Code 057525.  Please send deposit slip to [email protected] for acknowledgement.  You can also donate online here.

** Independent Media journalist Sihle Mlambo is in Indonesia with the Gift of the Givers team.

Sunday Tribune