A thousand people are still missing in Indonesia following the earthquake and tsunami which hit the country last Friday, reports say.
Many of the victims are feared to have been buried in over three metres of mud that has now solidified.
Homes in the Petobo area of Sulawesi have been flattened by the massive tide of mud, a spokesman said.
Rescuers have until Friday to find anyone still alive under the rubble, as authorities say the chances of finding survivors after that date is virtually zero.
The official death toll for the quake now stands at 1,424, while a further 70,000 have been left homeless.
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said: "The liquefaction damage is unprecedented in Indonesia, high seismic activity."
Liquefaction is a process which sees the earth loosen due to seismic activity, turning it into what looks like a heaving liquid.
The country’s national disaster agency has estimated the missing are concentrated in the Petobo, Balaroa and Sigi areas, Sky News reported.
Desperate residents on the west coast of Sulawesi island were scavenging for food in farms and orchards as the government struggled to overcome shortages of water, food, shelter and fuel in a disaster zone with no power and degraded communications.
Chaos has loomed at times with angry people in the region’s main city of Palu, 1,500 km (930 miles) northeast of Jakarta, looting shops and thronging its small airport, scrambling for any flight out.
Most of the confirmed dead have come from Palu and losses in remote areas remain unknown.
Communications are down and bridges and roads have been destroyed or blocked by slips.
But international efforts to help are gearing up, after the government overcame a traditional reluctance to take foreign aid.
"The government of Indonesia is experienced and well-equipped in managing natural disasters, but sometimes, as with all other countries, outside help is also needed," U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock said in a statement.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said it was appealing for 22 million Swiss francs ($22million) to help Indonesia.
The United States had provided initial funding, the State Department said earlier this week.
Some aid from Britain and Australia as also due to arrive on Thursday.
In all, about 20 countries have offered help, Indonesia has said.
In Palu, some shops and banks reopened on Thursday and a major mobile phone network was back into operation.
A sense of calm seemed to be returning with orderly queues at petrol stations after the arrival of fuel shipments.
Indonesia earthquake and tsunami
Indonesia lies on the so-called Ring of Fire of fault lines that surround the Pacific Ocean where tectonic plates meet.
These are vulnerable to seismic activity, including volcanoes and earthquakes, as the giant plates in the Earth’s crust collide and rub against each other.
Indonesia, along with many other countries in the region, is no stranger to tremors and eruptions.
Currently, three tectonic plates are on the move, causing the recent horrors.
Paul Caruso, a US Geological Survey geophysicist, told Live Science : "In this area, there’s subduction, so the Australian plate is moving under the Sunda plate, and the Australian plate is moving to the north underneath the Sunda plate."
And earthquakes at sea – if strong enough – can cause huge tidal waves.
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