Indonesia’s search for victims buried in neighborhoods annihilated by an earthquake and tsunami is nearing its end almost two weeks after the double disasters hit the remote city of Palu in central Sulawesi. A 7.5-magnitude earthquake on Sept. 28 triggered a tsunami and extensive soil liquefaction, a phenomenon that turns soft soil into a seething mire, killing 2,073 people, according to the latest official estimate. Up to 5,000 more may be missing. Palu was Indonesia’s second earthquake disaster of 2018. In August, the island of Lombok was rocked by quakes that flattened villages and killed more than 500 people. Indonesia straddles the southwestern reaches of the Pacific Ring of Fire and is practically defined by the tectonic plates that grind below its lush islands and blue seas. Volcanoes that dot the islands have brought fiery destruction and remarkable fertility, but rapid population growth over recent decades means that many more people are now living in hazardous areas. Rescuers struggled to retrieve the dead, the grim job compounded as mud hardened and bodies decomposed in the tropical heat. The search operation is over, but attention is shifting to the massive clean-up and relief mission to assist survivors. The UN has sought US$50.5 million (S$69.5 million) for urgent relief to assist survivors in need. Indonesia initially refused international help, but four days after the disaster, President Joko Widodo reluctantly agreed to allow in overseas aid. Nearly 90,000 people were displaced by the quake, forcing them into evacuation centres across the rubble-strewn city. Officials said it could be two years before all the homeless are found permanent accommodation.