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An airport damaged by the quake in central Indonesia is expected to re-open to civilian traffic later Thursday.

False reports claiming that another huge quake was about to hit Sulawesi island - which is already reeling from last Friday's double tragedy that has killed over 1,400 people - have circulated online in recent days.

"That kind of situation caused them to loot". "They deserve better", Hidayat said as he left Friday prayers at a mosque in the centre of Palu, 1,500 kilometres (930 miles) northeast of Indonesia's capital, Jakarta.

One of the volunteers, 48-year-old Asep Junaedi, said 643 people had been buried in the grave so far.

Frustrated French rescuers resumed their search at the Mercure Hotel in Palu on Friday but failed to detect the possible sign of life that was picked up by their sensors a day earlier.

Search efforts focused on eight key locations on Friday, including a beach and the Balaroa area.

Doctors said many patients have been at high risk of infection because they were buried in mud. Hundreds of the injured and other survivors lined up on the tarmac of Palu's badly damaged airport, hoping to escape aboard military aircraft.

Doctors have been flocking to help from other parts of Indonesia. The work to retrieve bodies has been hampered by lack of heavy equipment to dig them out.

But the Sulawesi tsunami was "atypical" and could not have been simulated, said Girardet, of the U.N. International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) in Bangkok.

Improvised white flags - a pillow case or duvet cover - fly outside many homes, signifying a death in the family. Thousands of people are sleeping in tents or in rough shelters made from debris, unsure when they'll be able to rebuild. "Because sometime (the relief goods) aren't distributed evenly".

Members of the Muslim Cyber Army (MCA) - a cluster of loosely connected groups accused of using Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to attack the government and stoke religious extremism - have been rounded up.

Most of the dead have been tallied in Palu. Several communities were wiped out as homes suddenly sank into the mire, which has since hardened in the tropical sun. An natural disaster measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale followed by a tsunami struck Central Sulawesi on Sept 28, with the cities of Palu and Donggala the worst affected.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne told reporters in Washington: "We will be working very closely with the Indonesian government to make sure that the support we are providing is highly targeted". Officials on the ground said that while the govt was now inviting offers of help, there is still no "mechanism for this to be implemented".