Flight navigation service AirNav Indonesia announced on Sunday (30/09) that Mutiara SIS Al Jufri Airport in Palu, Central Sulawesi, had been reopened for commercial flights after its closure on Friday evening in the wake of a major earthquake, followed by a tsunami. (Antara Photo/Rolex Malaha)

Palu Airport Reopens for Commercial Flights; Jokowi Visits Disaster Area

BY :TELLY NATHALIA

SEPTEMBER 30, 2018

Jakarta. State-owned flight navigation service AirNav Indonesia announced on Sunday (30/09) that the main airport in Palu, Central Sulawesi, had been reopened for commercial flights after its closure on Friday evening in the wake of a major earthquake, followed by a tsunami.

The air traffic control tower was partially destroyed and one of the two runways damaged in the magnitude-7.4 quake that struck the area on Friday evening.

"AirNav Indonesia has issued a notification on Sunday … on the reopening of Mutiara SIS Al Jufri Airport in Palu for limited commercial flight services with visual flight rules," Yohanes Sirait, the agency's public relations manager, said in a statement.

AirNav announced shortly after the main tremor that the airport would be closed for 24 hours.

It reopened on Saturday morning for search and rescue operations and to receive emergency and humanitarian aid.

The powerful earthquake resulted in damage to 500 meters of runway and the collapse of the top level of the control tower. It also put the navigation equipment, including the radar system, out of action.

At least 384 people were confirmed dead and more than 500 injured as of Saturday afternoon, according to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB). The search for victims, mostly trapped under collapsed buildings, is continuing.

There had been no updates as of Sunday morning on casualties in Donggala district, the area closest to the epicenter, due to limited road access to the area and disruption of the telecommunication network.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo was scheduled to visit Palu on Sunday after attending a prayer for victims of the disaster in Solo, Central Java, in the morning.

The Ministry of Transportation has urged flight operators to contact air traffic control in Makassar, South Sulawesi, for scheduling commercial flights to Palu.

"Departing from Adisumarmo Military Base in Surakarta [Central Java] to Palu. I want to see for myself and make sure the disaster relief following the earthquake and tsunami in Central Sulawesi directly reaches our brothers and sisters there," the president said in a statement on Sunday.

Military and police personnel have been deployed in the affected areas since Friday evening to assist with emergency relief efforts. Several ministers have also arrived in Palu on Saturday to coordinate the efforts.

According to the BNPB, more than 19,000 people are currently living in temporary shelters.

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