Video shows tsunami hitting Palu after 7.7-magnitude quake

Charlene Craig
October 3, 2018

The official Antara agency quoted the head of the national disaster agency giving the latest toll in the coastal city of Palu, while authorities warned casualties were "increasing" as news arrived from remote areas cut off by the 7.5-magnitude quake and 1.5-metre (five feet) high tsunami.

He said the fate of "tens to hundreds" of people involved in a beach festival in Palu when the tsunami struck was unknown. The tsunami followed a 7.5 magnitude quake.

"The tsunami didn't come by itself, it dragged cars, logs, houses, it hit everything on land", Nugroho told reporters.

Amateur footage shown by local TV stations showed waves crashing into houses along Palu's shoreline, scattering shipping containers and flooding into a mosque in the city. Around 16,700 people were evacuated to 24 centres in Palu.

Pictures supplied by the disaster agency showed a badly damaged shopping mall in Palu where at least one floor had collapsed onto the storey below, while other photographs showed major damage to buildings and large cracks across pavements.

Aftershocks continued to rock the coastal city on Saturday.

Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said Friday night that he instructed the security minister to coordinate the government's response to the disaster.

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The geography of the city, which sits at the end of a long, narrow bay, could have magnified the size of the tsunami, it said.

Nugroho said that the casualties and the damage could be greater along the coastline 190 miles north of Palu in Donggala. The impact is significant, but the scope of the destruction is unclear because communications are down and emergency teams have not reached all affected areas.

Bodies of some victims were found trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings, he said, adding 540 people were injured and 29 were missing.

Television footage showed people being treated outdoors in makeshift medical facilities, while bodies, some of them in bags, are lined up on the streets.

Palu's airport also suffered damages, its runway badly cracked from the quake.

Communications "were totally crippled with no information" from Donggala, he added.

The massive wave hit Palu and Donggala in central Sulawesi province.

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"This is already a tragedy, but it could get much worse", it said.

The death toll in the disaster has been put at almost 400 so far but authorities expect the figure to rise.

That quake triggered a tsunami that killed 220,000 throughout the region, including 168,000 in Indonesia. The water smashed into buildings and the damaged mosque.

Communications with the area were hard because power and telecommunications were cut, hampering search and rescue efforts.

Authorities have said they expect the death toll to rise.

The city's airport has been reopened only for relief efforts and will remain closed until October 4 for commercial flights, Nugroho said.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, is frequently hit by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis because of its location on the "Ring of Fire", an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.

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Hundreds were injured Friday by the 7.5-magnitude natural disaster that triggered the six-meter high tsunami.

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