PALU, Indonesia — The bodies of 34 children who were attending a Christian Bible camp on a northern Indonesian island were discovered earlier this week amid wreckage brought to the region by Friday’s magnitude 7.5 earthquake and ensuing tsunami, a Red Cross spokesperson told ABC News.
The tragic discovery marks the latest reported deaths in the catastrophe. As of Wednesday, the death toll increased to at least 1,400. Indonesian rescue workers said a mudslide caused by the earthquake engulfed the church. Red Cross spokeswoman Aulia Arriani said 34 bodies of the Bible camp attendees have been found, while another 52 remained missing.
The camp is located on the island of Sulawesi, about 170 miles south of Palu, a city of 380,000 residents which received the brunt of destruction. The magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck at dusk Friday, generating a tsunami as high as 20 feet in some places.
Lack of heavy machinery in the region has hampered rescue efforts. In some places, roads have been torn away all together, making travel to other areas virtually impossible. Nearly 50,000 people have been displaced from their homes in Palu alone, and hospitals were overwhelmed, according to reports.
A representative for an aid organization told ABC News that planes have been unable to land at Palu’s airport because it is overrun with desperate residents waiting for aid.
“There was a fear of the crowd mobbing the plane; people are so desperate for aid,” the representative said.
In Donggala, a region north of Palu with 300,000 people and close to the quake’s epicenter, communication has been cut off entirely, Reuters reported.
Volunteers in Palu prepared mass graves through the weekend to accommodate the high death toll. Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency said a mass burial would take place soon “as soon as possible for health and religious reasons. The majority of Palu’s inhabitants are Muslim.
The Associated Press, Fox News contributed to this report.