World

At least 384 killed in Indonesian quake, tsunami

Kathmandu

Sep 29, 2018-

At least 384 people were killed, many swept away by giant waves as they played on the beach, when a major earthquake and tsunami hit the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, authorities said on Saturday, Reuters reported.

Hundreds had gathered for a festival on the beach of the city of Palu on Friday when waves up to six metres (18 feet) high smashed ashore just on dusk, sweeping many to their death and destroying anything in their path.

“When the (tsunami) threat arose yesterday, people were still doing their activities on the beach and did not immediately run and they became victims,” Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman of Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency BNPB said in news briefing in Jakarta.

“The tsunami didn’t come by itself, it dragged cars, logs, houses, it hit everything on land,” Nugroho said.

Some people climbed six metre (18 feet) trees to escape the tsunami and survived, he said.

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.

Nugroho said the tsunami had struck with a speed of 800 kmph (497 mph), destroying buildings and infrastructure.

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

Nugroho described the damage as “extensive” with thousands of houses, hospitals, shopping malls and hotels collapsed, a bridge washed away and the main highway to Palu cut off due to a landslide.

Bodies of some victims were found trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings, he said, adding 540 people were injured and 29 missing. Dozens of injured people were being treated in makeshift medical tents set up outdoors, TV images showed.

Photos confirmed by authorities showed bodies being lined up along the street on Saturday, some in bags and some with their faces covered with clothes.

Indonesia’s meteorological and geophysics agency BMKG issued a tsunami warning after the quake, but lifted it 34 minutes later. The agency has been widely criticised for not informing a tsunami had hit Palu on Saturday, though officials said waves had come within the time the warning was issued.

The quake and tsunami caused a major power outage that cut communications around Palu and on Saturday authorities were still having difficulties coordinating rescue efforts.

Nugroho said the quake intensity was much higher in the fishing town of Donggala, which was closer to the epicentre, and they expect the damage there to be much worse, but have not been able to establish communications.

More than 600,000 people live in Donggala and Palu.

Chief security minister Wiranto told TVOne the military had started sending in cargo planes from the capital Jakarta carrying relief aid.

The city’s airport is slated to reopen on Saturday afternoon after being closed as its runway and air traffic control tower was damaged in the quake, authorities said.

President Joko Widodo is scheduled to visit evacuation centres in Palu on Sunday.

The Palu area was hit by a less powerful quake earlier on Friday, which destroyed some houses, killed one person and injured at least 10 in Donggala, authorities said.

The U.S. Geological Survey put the magnitude of the second quake at a strong 7.5, after first saying it was 7.7.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire and is regularly hit by earthquakes. In August, a series of major quakes killed over 500 people in the tourist island of Lombok and destroyed dozens of villages along its northern coast.

Palu was hit by tsunami in 1927 and 1968, according to BNPB.

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Quake, tsunami kills at least 48 on Indonesia's Sulawesi Island

Many bodies were found on Saturday along the shoreline of the Indonesian city of Palu on Sulawesi island which was hit by a major earthquake and tsunami, as the death toll rose to 48 people and hundreds unaccounted for, authorities said, Reuters reported.

Strong aftershocks continued to rock the coastal city on Saturday morning after waves up to three metres (9.8 feet) high swept through the scenic tourist town, triggered by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake on land.

“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.

At least 48 people had been killed and the death toll was expected to rise, said Nugroho.

Hundreds of people who were preparing for a beach festival to celebrate Palu’s anniversary were unaccounted for, he said. The festival was due to start Friday night.

Amateur footage shown by local TV stations, which could not immediately be authenticated by Reuters, showed waters crashing into houses along Palu’s shoreline, scattering shipping containers and flooding into a mosque in the city.

Nugroho described the damage as “extensive” with thousands of houses, hospitals, shopping malls and hotels collapsed and a bridge washed away.

Bodies of victims trapped between the rubble of collapsing buildings were also found, he said, adding that more than 350 people were injured.

Dozens of injured people were being treated in makeshift medical tents set up outdoors, TV images showed.

Indonesia’s meteorological and geophysics agency BMKG issued a tsunami warning after the quake, but lifted it 34 minutes later. The agency was widely criticised for not informing a tsunami had hit Palu on Saturday, though officials said waves had come within the time the warning was issued.

The quake and tsunami caused a major power outage that cut communications around Palu and on Saturday authorities were still having difficulties coordinating rescue efforts.

BNPB has not been able to get any information from the town of Donggala, closer to the epicentre of the quake 27 km (16 miles) away. More than 600,000 people live in Donggala and Palu.

Chief security minister Wiranto told TVOne the military had started sending in cargo planes from the capital Jakarta carrying relief aid.

 

The city’s airport remained closed after its runway and air traffic control tower was damaged in the quake but officials said they were preparing to reopen to allow aid to come in.

“We hope the airport can be reopened soon for flights carrying disaster relief and aid,” said Yohannes Sirait of AirNav, the air traffic management agency.

Road access to Palu from the east and the south are disconnected, making relief efforts difficult, authorities said.

“There is no evacuation yet in the disaster area,” Tezar Kodongan, a Palu resident, told Metro TV.

The Palu area was hit by a less powerful quake earlier on Friday, which destroyed some houses, killed one person and injured at least 10 in the fishing town of Donggala, closest to the epicentre, authorities said.

The U.S. Geological Survey put the magnitude of the second quake at a strong 7.5, after first saying it was 7.7.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire and is regularly hit by earthquakes. In August, a series of major quakes killed over 500 people in the tourist island of Lombok and destroyed dozens of villages along its northern coast.

Palu was hit by tsunami in 1927 and 1968, according to BNPB.

Published: 29-09-2018 11:52

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