The Latest: Indonesia quake, tsunami deaths climb to 384

2018-09-29 11:08

Indonesian television and other media, citing disaster agency spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, says the death toll from the Sulawesi earthquake and tsunami has jumped to 384.

The figure is from the hard-hit city of Palu alone, where hundreds of people are injured and thousands of homes damaged or destroyed.

The tsunami triggered by a magnitude 7.5 earthquake smashed into two cities and several settlements on Sulawesi island at dusk on Friday.

Palu, which has more than 380 000 people, was strewn with debris from collapsed buildings. A mosque heavily damaged by the quake was half submerged and a shopping mall was reduced to a crumpled hulk. Bodies lay partially covered by tarpaulins and a man carried a dead child through the wreckage.

The city is built around a narrow bay that apparently magnified the force of the tsunami waters as they raced into the tight inlet.

In the nearby city of Donggala, home to nearly 300 000 people, a large bridge with yellow arches that spanned a coastal river had collapsed.

Indonesian TV showed a smartphone video of a powerful wave hitting Palu, with people screaming and running in fear. The water smashed into buildings and the damaged mosque.

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

Nugroho has said that essential aircraft can land at Palu's airport, though AirNav, which oversees aircraft navigation, said the runway is cracked and the control tower damaged.

AirNav said one of its air traffic controllers, aged 21, died in the quake after staying in the tower to ensure a flight he'd just cleared for departure got airborne safely. It did.

Indonesia's president on Friday night said he had instructed the security minister to coordinate the government's response to a quake and tsunami that hit central Sulawesi.

Joko "Jokowi" Widodo also told reporters in his hometown of Solo that he had called on the country's military chief for help with search and rescue efforts.

UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said UN officials were in contact with Indonesian authorities and "stand ready to provide support as required".

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.

On August 5, a powerful quake on the island of Lombok killed 505 people, most of whom died in collapsing buildings. Another series of strong quakes in mid-August killed at least a dozen on Lombok and neighbouring Sumbawa island.

In December 2004, a massive magnitude 9.1 earthquake off Sumatra in western Indonesia triggered a tsunami that killed 230 000 people in a dozen countries.





Read more on:    indonesia  |  earthquakes

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