Indonesia's Central Sulawesi Province on Thursday marked five years since a massive earthquake and tsunami hit the province, killing more than 4,300 people, with thousands of survivors still awaiting permanent relocation.
Local residents laid flowers at Talise beach in Palu, the capital of the province in the country's central Sulawesi Island that was hit hardest by the magnitude 7.4 quake and tsunami. Due to soil liquefaction caused by the temblor, thousands of houses sank into the ground, and many of the victims were killed by a mudflow.
Prayers were offered at the Poboya mass grave in the neighboring Sigi regency, where hundreds of bodies, including some unidentified, were buried following the disaster.
Arie Setiadi, head of the Central Sulawesi Disaster Management Task Force, has said at least 4,000 households are still in temporary shelters, rented rooms or houses, or relatives' homes, as construction of housing by the provincial government has been delayed due to land issues and other reasons.
There are also many others who have returned to their homes in areas designated as hazardous due to the limited housing in safe areas, according to local authorities.
While some government offices and infrastructure facilities damaged in the disaster have been rebuilt, restoration efforts are still under way, with many half-collapsed buildings seen in Palu.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency said it has provided grant aid for the reconstruction of a bridge in Palu, the elevation of coastal roads and the construction of roads connecting housing complexes built for people who used to live in the areas hit by liquefaction and tsunami.
In the Petobo district of Palu, many residents who evacuated after the disaster returned to their homes damaged by mudslides triggered by liquefaction.
Lodewick Pangalila, one of the residents, said the area was designated as a red zone by the provincial government for a possible recurrence of liquefaction. He added that he received financial support from the government right after the disaster but was not entitled to a house in a new permanent settlement.
The 61-year-old explained, "I have no other choice but to return to my house in Petobo as I cannot afford to buy one in another area." He also said he was worried about future disasters.