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Indonesia tsunami highlights: Death toll nears 400, fate of hundreds more unknown

Indonesia tsunami highlights: The death toll rose to nearly 400 today as the area suffered power outage leading to the grounding of communication networks.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: September 30, 2018 9:28:44 am
Indonesia earthqake, tsunami highlights: Residents stand in front of a damaged shopping mall after an earthquake hit Palu. (Reuters Photo)

A powerful earthquake of 7.5 magnitude rocked the Indonesian island of Sulawesi on Friday, triggering a 5-feet-tall tsunami which swept away houses in the cities of Palu and Donggala. The death toll rose to 384 on Saturday as the area suffered power outage leading to the grounding of communication networks.

Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said it rescue efforts on Friday were difficult after Sulawesi capital city Palu plunged into darkness and its communication lines were snapped. He said houses were swept away and several families were reported missing. Read the full story here.

The airport in Palu city remained closed today. The US Geological Survey said the strongest quake had a magnitude of 7.5 and was centred at a depth of 6 miles (10 kilometres) about 35 miles (56 kilometres) northeast of the central Sulawesi town of Donggala. It briefly triggered a tsunami warning.

Live Blog

Indonesia tsunami LIVE UPDATES: Island Sulawesi hit by tsunami after a 7.5 magnitude earthquake. Read highlights in Malayalam, Tamil, Bengali

15:01 (IST)29 Sep 2018
Why is Indonesia prone to earthquakes?

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. Last month, a powerful quake on the island of Lombok killed 505 people, most of whom died due to collapsing buildings. Another series of strong quakes in mid-August killed at least a dozen on Lombok and neighboring Sumbawa island. However, the worst of the lot occured in December 2004, when an earthquale measuring 9.1 off Sumatra island in western Indonesia triggered a tsunami that killed 2,30,000 people in a dozen countries.

14:31 (IST)29 Sep 2018
'People were still doing their activities on the beach when the tsunami struck'

"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.

14:16 (IST)29 Sep 2018
Nugroho described the damage as "extensive" with houses, hospitals, shopping malls and hotels collapsed

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.

14:12 (IST)29 Sep 2018
Airport is slated to reopen on Saturday afternoon

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.

13:33 (IST)29 Sep 2018
In Pics | Rescue efforts underway in Palu

(Source: Reuters)

13:24 (IST)29 Sep 2018
Preparation for beach festival was underway when waves struck Palu

Hundreds of people were preparing for a beach festival to celebrate Palu's anniversary. The festival was due to start Friday night. Some people climbed six metre (18 feet) trees to escape the tsunami and survived, Nugroho said. 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.

13:23 (IST)29 Sep 2018
Watch | Tsunami wave hitting the city of Palu
13:15 (IST)29 Sep 2018
Indonesia prone to disastrous earthquakes in the past

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.

12:55 (IST)29 Sep 2018
Death toll jumps to 384: local media reports

Breaking | Indonesian media, citing national disaster agency, says the death toll from Sulawesi earthquake and tsunami rises to 384.

12:29 (IST)29 Sep 2018
Warning issued, withdrawn soon

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.

11:19 (IST)29 Sep 2018
Death toll reaches 48, figures likely to rise

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.

09:40 (IST)29 Sep 2018
Military springs to action, airport remains closed

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.

09:39 (IST)29 Sep 2018
Indonesia falls in Ring of Fire, prone to earthquakes

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. 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.

08:18 (IST)29 Sep 2018
UN alert to provide support to tsunami hit Palu

In Palu, the capital of Central Sulawesi province, a large bridge spanning a coastal river had collapsed and the city was strewn with debris. The city is built around a narrow bay that apparently magnified the force of the tsunami waters as they raced into the tight inlet.  An AP reporter saw bodies partially covered by tarpaulins and a man carrying a dead child through the wreckage. 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 a large mosque already damaged by the earthquake. 

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said U.N. officials were in contact with Indonesian authorities and ``stand ready to provide support as required.''                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          (AP)

07:40 (IST)29 Sep 2018
30 dead in Tsunami after earthquake strikes Indonesia

At least 30 people were killed in the bay city of Palu in Indonesia’s Sulawesi island, a hospital official told Metro TV on Saturday, after the area was hit by strong earthquakes and a tsunami a day earlier. Authorities were having difficulties coordinating rescue efforts as the 7.5 magnitude quake caused a power outage that cut communications around Palu and the nearby fishing town of Donggala, the closest to the epicentre of the quake 27 km (17 miles) away.

Also Read | Strong quake, tsunami in Indonesia’s Sulawesi island kill at least 30

22:33 (IST)28 Sep 2018
Communications and power disrupted

``The cut to telecommunications and darkness are hampering efforts to obtain information,'' Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said, as reported by AP. 

``All national potential will be deployed, and tomorrow morning we will deploy Hercules and helicopters to provide assistance in tsunami-affected areas,'' he added.

21:54 (IST)28 Sep 2018
Indonesia is prone to quakes

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. A series of earthquakes in the month of July and August killed over 500 people on the island of Lombok in Indonesia. 

21:17 (IST)28 Sep 2018
Watch | Tsunami waves hitting the provincial capital of Palu
21:11 (IST)28 Sep 2018
Operations at Palu airport halted for 24 hours

Palu's airport halted operations for 24 hours due to earthquake damage, according to AirNav, which oversees airline traffic in Indonesia.

21:10 (IST)28 Sep 2018
Tsunami waves were upto 10 feet high

The chief of the meteorology and geophysics agency, Dwikorita Karnawati, said the tsunami waves were 0.5 to 3 meters (1.6 to 10 feet) high, as reported by  Associated Press.

Indonesia earthquake, tsunami LIVE UPDATES: Residents carry a body bag containing the body of a tsunami victim in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018. (AP Photo)

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 a large mosque that crumpled under the force.

The region was rocked by a magnitude 7.5 earthquake Friday and numerous strong aftershocks including one of magnitude 6.7.

The chief of the meteorology and geophysics agency, Dwikorita Karnawati, said the tsunami was up to 1.5 meters (5 feet) high. She said the tsunami warning triggered by the biggest quake, in place for about half an hour, was lifted after the tsunami was over.

Watch | Video shows tsunami hit Indonesian island of Sulawesi after powerful earthquake

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