At least 408 dead in Indonesia after quake, tsunami

Arturo Kim
September 30, 2018

The Head of the National Disaster Management Agency says the death toll has risen to 420.

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 only Filipino on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi is safe after a powerful quake and tsunami left at least 420 dead there, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Saturday.

"Many bodies were found along the shoreline because of the tsunami, but the numbers are still unknown", said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman of Indonesia's disaster mitigation agency BNPB said in news briefing in Jakarta.

Injured people are treated outside at Army hospital following earthquakes and a tsunami in Palu, Central Sulawesi.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency put the official death toll at 384 based on hospital reports, nearly all them in the hard-hit city of Palu.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports more than half of the 560 inmates in Palu's prison escaped after its walls collapsed during the quake on Friday.

Many people were reported trapped in the rubble of buildings brought down in the 7.5-magnitude natural disaster, which struck on Friday and triggered tsunami waves as high as six metres, agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told a news conference.

People survey the mosque damaged following earthquakes and tsunami in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018.

The video clip, shot on a smartphone and widely broadcast Saturday on Indonesian TV, showed water swallowing an entire row of buildings and gushing into streets and a damaged mosque as onlookers ran in terror.

The Jakarta Post reported that one of the air traffic controllers, Anthonius Gunawan Agung, 21, died after he jumped off the traffic control tower when the quake hit the area.

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She said communication was hard and the aid organisation had been struggling to get a proper ground assessment. "All national potential will be deployed, and tomorrow morning we will deploy Hercules and helicopters to provide assistance in tsunami-affected areas".

Strong aftershocks continued to rock the coastal city on Saturday morning following the massive 7.5 magnitude natural disaster on Friday, which triggered the tsunami.

Indonesia's meteorological and geophysics agency BMKG issued a tsunami warning after Friday's quake, but lifted it 34 minutes later.

Nugroho said "tens to hundreds" of people were taking part in a beach festival in Palu when the tsunami struck at dusk on Friday.

"People are encouraged to remain vigilant", Sutopo said.

"It is not just the people in the large urban areas. Avoid the slopes of hills".

Residents look at covered up bodies recovered after an quake and tsunami hit Palu, on Sulawesi island. The destruction spread as far as Japan, where 142 people were killed and 1,600 buildings damaged. Women and children wailed hysterically in a video distributed by the disaster agency, which also released a photo showing a heavily damaged department store.

On July 17, 1998, Papua New Guinea was rocked by two quakes, each of 7.0 magnitude.

United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric said United Nations 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.

This latest quake comes after a series of earthquakes in July and August killed at least 623 people and destroyed hundreds of thousands of buildings on the Indonesian island of Lombok, which is situated hundreds of kilometres south-west of Sulawesi.

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