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Indonesia earthquake and tsunami survivors search is officially called off

The search for survivors of the earthquake and tsunami that smashed Indonesia has officially been halted.

The official death toll in Sulawesi currently stands at 1,948 with most of the fatalities in Palu.

The small city bore the brunt of the disaster, which saw many people trapped under fallen masonry and rubble after the quake struck first.

Thousands are still missing after a 7.5-magnitude quake struck the island’s west coast on September 28, leaving nearly 2,000 people are dead.

On October 2, four days after the quake and 20ft-high tsunami hit the city, Indonesian soldiers started digging a 300ft-long trench.

It was to act as a mass grave for the hundreds of dead.

An aerial view shows the earthquake and tsunami devasted neighbourhood in Palu

Indonesian tsunami victims face grim clear up and aid effort as bodies pile up in their hundreds

The decision to halt the search has been made in consultation with victims families, in the belief that survival is impossible in such apocalyptic conditions this long after the event, according to CNN Indonesia reports.

No one knows precisely how many people are missing following the disaster, especially in areas of southern Palu devastated by soil liquefaction.

However, the number could be as high as 5,000, the national disaster agency said. Meanwhile, about 70,000 people have been displaced.

Many of the displaced in Sulawesi are living in basic shelters in the city and surrounding hills, with a plan to relocate communities being drawn up.

The government has allocated 560 billion rupiah (£28 million) for quake relief and has said some 20 countries have offered help.

Sulawesi is one of Indonesia’s five main islands.

Indonesian National Search and Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) shows rescuers searching for victims

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The archipelago sees frequent earthquakes and occasional tsunami.

In 2004, a quake off Sumatra island triggered a tsunami across the Indian Ocean that killed 226,000 people in 13 countries.

The toll included more than 120,000 in Indonesia.

Foreign governments and aid groups played a big role in the emergency response and recovery efforts that year.

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