Hundreds killed in Indonesia quake

Charlene Craig
September 30, 2018

Strong aftershocks have continued to hit the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, where a major quake and tsunami killed at least 384 people and injured 500.

Hospitals and rescuers are struggling to deal with the aftermath of a 7.5 magnitude natural disaster that triggered an unexpected tsunami in the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, killing at least 384 people.

An AP reporter saw bodies partially covered by tarpaulins and a man carrying a dead child amid the wreckage.

Authorities have said that "tens to hundreds" of people were by the ocean in Palu for a beach festival when the tsunami struck, and their fate is unknown.

The tsunami was triggered by a strong quake that brought down buildings and sent locals fleeing for higher ground as a churning wall of water crashed into Palu, where there were widespread power blackouts. The wave damaged several buildings, including a mosque.

Indonesia is prone to earthquakes because of its location on the 'Ring of Fire, ' an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.

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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Indonesia had not asked for help but he had contacted President Widodo overnight to offer support and deep sympathies.

Sutopo said the military was deploying troops to Palu and Donggala and the national police were also mobilizing to help the emergency response, as well as personnel from the search-and-rescue and disaster agencies.

Officials announced Saturday that the storm claimed more than 420 casualties, and fear there could be many more as they began to account for the devastation on the island about 800 miles northwest of Jakarta.

The quake hit just off central Sulawesi at a depth of 10km in the early evening, the US Geological Survey said.

Dramatic video of the tsunami hitting Palu showed high waves sweeping away several buildings and then the large tilted mosque in the town, about 80 km from the quake's epicentre.

The ruin of a mosque badly damaged by natural disaster and tsunami is seen in Palu on Saturday.

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"This is already a tragedy, but it could get much worse", it said. The agency was widely criticised for withdrawing the warning too quickly, though officials said they estimated the waves had come within the time the warning was in force.

Didiet KS Radityo, the corporate secretary of the Indonesian Flight Navigation Service Institution (AirNav Indonesia), told The Jakarta Post that Agung, who worked for AirNav Indonesia, died in hospital on Saturday morning. Palu's airport has been closed, forcing rescue workers to make the trek into the damaged city by road.

"And then it makes it higher", said Nazli Ismail, a geophysicist at the University of Syiah Kuala in Banda Aceh on Indonesia's Sumatra island, where a magnitude-9.1 natural disaster spawned a tsunami in 2004, killing 230,000 people in a dozen countries.

"We have heard nothing from Donggala and this is extremely worrying".

But Danny Hilman Natawidjaja, a geologist with the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, said the Sulawesi event is more complicated.

"AirNav Indonesia has sent personnel from Makassar and Balikpapan to ensure flight navigation services at Palu airport will run well in order to maximise the recovery process after the natural disaster", said Mr Yohanes.

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