Munif Umayar, a survivor of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the city of Palu, took up a laborious search for his house in the ruins of the Balaroa neighborhood. After a long hunt, and hard digging, he finally found it–at least 150 yards from where he guessed he used to live.
That was the power of the earthquake, turning the ground into jelly in a deadly churn that eradicated landmarks and sent buildings flowing sideways even as they were being sucked down into rubble.
Balaroa sustained almost no damage from the ensuing tsunami.
Instead, the neighborhood was laid waste when the earthquake caused a phenomenon known as liquefaction, undermining and destroying at least 1,747 homes in this part of town alone. Balaroa is now a vast wasteland of debris. Rooftops are all that remain of many houses.
This is not to dismiss that an untold number were swept away by the tsunami, especially by the third and final wave that was more than 20 feet high in some places. And many bodies are thought to still be buried under rubble in places like Balaroa.
[New York Times]
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