Published: Mon, October 01, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Death toll in Indonesia quake-tsunami reaches 420 - state media

Death toll in Indonesia quake-tsunami reaches 420 - state media

The death toll from twin disasters on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, a major quake and the tsunami that followed, jumped to more than 800 on Sunday as rescue workers were only just starting to take stock of the wreckage - pulling out survivors buried under the rubble from a collapsed hotel, treating patients in tents and racing to get food and water to survivors.

The tsunami, which hit 34 minutes after a 7.5-magnitude natural disaster struck Indonesia, churned over the island in the center of Indonesia and killed more than 420 victims in Palu alone.

With most of the confirmed deaths from Palu, authorities are bracing for much worse as reports filter in from outlying areas, in particular, Donggala, a region of 300,000 people north of Palu and close to the epicentre of the quake, and two other districts.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla said the death toll could rise to thousands.

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

The leaders said they have been in direct contact with Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, and had passed on the concern of Australians and an offer of support if required.

Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the waves reached as high as 6 meters (20 feet) in at least one area, according to a report relayed by a man who called to say he survived only by climbing and clinging to a tree.

Dramatic video footage captured from the top floor of a parking ramp as the tsunami rolled in showed waves bringing down several buildings and inundating a large mosque.

Dozens of injured people were being treated in makeshift medical tents set up outdoors.

Bodies covered in blue and yellow tarps lined the streets of Palu, while rescuers dug through rubble in the hopes of finding survivors from the twin disasters that struck Friday evening.

Dozens hurt as typhoon Trami hammers Japan
The terminal building was closed for the day and the monorail as well as bus service to the airport were also suspended. Both airline groups cancelled all flights to and from Naha, Ishigaki and Miyako airports in Okinawa Prefecture.

Looters were stealing from a badly damaged shopping centre in Palu that was not being guarded. A bridge washed away and the main highway to Palu was cut off due to a landslide.

People from France, South Korea and Malaysia were missing, while foreigners who have been or are to be evacuated from the quake-hit areas include those from China, Germany, Singapore, Belgium, Vietnam and Thailand, Nugroho said.

The Red Cross said staff and volunteers were heading to the affected areas.

Communications "were totally crippled with no information" from Donggala, he added. Hopefully dead victims are buried in the most lovely place.

Already, a story of bravery has emerged from the tragedy.

Anthonius Gunawan Agung, 21, died in the hospital after he jumped off the traffic control tower at the Palu airport when he thought the tower was collapsing.

"Evacuees here are in dire need of food, water and electricity generator", the post said. I don't know what happened to her and my child.

More than half of the 560 inmates in a Palu prison fled after its walls collapsed during the quake, said its warden, Adhi Yan Ricoh.

"It was very hard for the guards to stop the inmates from running away as they were so panicked and had to save themselves too", Antara quoted warden Adhi Yan Ricoh as saying.

A village chief told AP that between 100 and 200 people might be buried under the rubble of a residential complex in Palu. Hotel owner Ko Jefry told Metro TV on Saturday that up to 60 people were believed trapped. A disaster official said the tsunami travelled across the sea at speeds of 800 kmph Video on social media showed water bearing whirls of debris rushing in as people shouted in alarm and scattered. The high number of casualties, Nugroho admitted, was caused by a limited early warnings, a lack of knowledge of the impending devastation and "limited shelter and spatial planning".

Like this: