Indonesia earthquake: Hundreds dead in Palu quake and tsunami

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More than 380 people have been confirmed dead after a tsunami triggered by a magnitude 7.5 earthquake hit an Indonesian city on Friday.

Waves up to 3m (10ft) high swept through Palu on Sulawesi island.

Video on social media shows people screaming and fleeing in panic and a mosque amongst the buildings damaged.

Strong aftershocks continued to rock the city on Saturday. Thousands of homes have collapsed, along with hospitals, hotels and shopping centres.

Rescue efforts are under way, though hampered by a major power cut. The main road to Palu has been blocked due to a landslide.

‘Many bodies along the shoreline’

Indonesia’s disaster agency said at least 384 people have been killed. More than 350 have been injured.

A less powerful quake earlier on Friday had killed at least one person and injured at least 10 in the smaller fishing town of Donggala.

“We have not received comprehensive reports yet because communications are cut. Many bodies were found along the shoreline because of the tsunami, but the numbers are still unknown,” Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the agency, told Reuters.

It is not clear whether the deaths came in the quake or the resulting tsunami.

TV footage showed dozens of injured people being treated outside in makeshift medical tents.

Palu and Donggala are home to more than 600,000 people. A minister said the runway in Palu was damaged, although it was hoped that helicopters would still be able to land.

The country’s military has started sending cargo planes of relief aid from the capital, Jakarta.

The earthquake hit just off central Sulawesi at a depth of 10km (6.2 miles) just before 18:00 (11:00 GMT), the US Geological Survey said.

A tsunami warning was issued, but lifted within the hour. Indonesia’s meteorological agency has been criticised for its response, but officials said the waves struck while the warning was in place.

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

“The situation is chaotic, people are running on the streets and buildings collapsed. There is a ship washed ashore,” said Dwikorita Karnawati, head of Indonesia’s meteorology and geophysics agency.

A 2004 tsunami triggered by an earthquake off the Indonesian island of Sumatra killed 226,000 across the Indian Ocean, including more than 120,000 in Indonesia.

Indonesia is prone to earthquakes because it lies on the Ring of Fire – the line of frequent quakes and volcanic eruptions that circles virtually the entire Pacific rim.

More than half of the world’s active volcanoes above sea level are part of the ring.

Just last month, a series of deadly earthquakes struck the Indonesian island of Lombok. The biggest, on 5 August, killed more than 460 people.

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