For two gut-wrenching days, a single father in Indonesia diligently searched through rubble in hopes of finding his three missing children after an earthquake and resulting tsunami levelled his hometown.

The 7.5-magnitude quake rocked the provincial capital of Palu, a city of 380,000, and triggered a series of chaotic events. Soil churned and drew liquid to the surface, burying hundreds of houses and other buildings in mud.

Father Jambar lost his wife five months ago, and he was determined to find his children. On his second day of searching through the debris, he made the tragic discovery – the bodies of all three children buried underneath their family house.

The youngest was three years old.

As a geologist, Jambar said he understands the science behind the disaster. But he’s grappling with another question: Why?

“Maybe God didn’t think I was capable of raising them alone,” he told CTV’s Omar Sachedina.

Jambar is one of many survivors tasked with rummaging through what’s left of Palu in search of loved ones. Aerial footage shows rows upon rows of houses reduced to scraps. The power of the disaster lifted a ferry and dropped it inside the residential area.

Hundreds more were forced to flee the beach, where a festival was being held at the time of the disaster.

A shortage of heavy machinery has made the excruciating task even more challenging. Volunteers and members of the military walk through the wreckage to collect bodies.

Officials estimate that, across Indonesia, at least 1,571 people are dead. Among those killed, more than 643 are buried in a mass grave.

Thousands more were injured. In Palu, the injured are gathered in a small hospital without electricity or air conditioning. Several suffered broken bones while fleeing the disaster.

Dr. Agung Daulay said the patients face a long path to recovery.

“We are here to cure their bodies, but their souls, I guess, just let it flow with time. That’s the best cure for them,” Dr. Daulay said.

A makeshift campground has sprung up outside Palu’s grand mosque. The tents are home for more than 70,000 displaced people.

Worshipers gathered for the first Friday prayers since the tragedy. The imam recognized the community’s loss and acknowledged that, for many, the past week has likely tested their faith. He encouraged them to face their sadness with courage.

Abu Shamsuddin attended the prayers, but his thoughts were with his son.

"I hope my dead son has gone to heaven because he was in the middle of praying,” he told the Associated Press. "Allah willing, heaven for him. I have faith in that."

With a report from CTV’s Omar Sachedina in Palu, Indonesia and files from The Associated Press