Indon to end search for victims on Friday

The UN secretary general is set to tour Indonesia's earthquake zone where 2000 homes were razed. (AAP)

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres will tour the earthquake and tsunami zone in Indonesia where 2000 people died and 2000 homes were swallowed.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has arrived in Indonesia ahead of a visit to disaster-hit Sulawesi island.

Search teams in Indonesia's Central Sulawesi province were still recovering bodies on Wednesday, as government prepares to call off search efforts for the victims of last month's earthquake and tsunami.

It is understood that the United Nations is still providing assistance to the disaster relief effort, after the Indonesian government started restricting the movement of foreign aid workers earlier in the week.

Guterres arrived in Bali late on Tuesday and will meet with Indonesia's President Joko Widodo and speak at a gathering of ASEAN leaders, before he visits the city of Palu, one of the worst-hit areas, spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.

The death toll from the September 28 disaster topped 2000 on Wednesday, said local government spokesman Adiman Raja.

Officially, the number of people still unaccounted for after their houses were swallowed by the 7.4-magnitude earthquake is in the hundreds; but the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB), citing information from local officials, said that about 5000 may still be missing.

"We are still focused on recovering bodies," said Yusuf Latief, spokesman for the National Search and Rescue Agency.

"We have found several of them, but let's see how many we can find today," he said.

BNPB said the government had set an October 11 target for the completion of the search and rescue operation, citing fears of an outbreak of disease from handling decomposing bodies.

The local government agreed to turn areas in three villages where many victims were believed to be still buried into memorial parks, the agency said.

About 2000 homes were swallowed by the earthquake, BNPB said quoting village chiefs.

BNPB spokesman Sutopo Nugroho said damage caused by the disaster was estimated at 10 trillion Indonesian rupiah (A$925.5 million).

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch