Indonesia earthquake and tsunami: Death toll rises to 384 in city of Palu
Jakarta :At least 384 people have been killed after a 7.5-magnitude earthquake and a powerful tsunami hit the coast of Indonesia, the country’s disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said. The death toll is from the hard-hit city of Palu alone, where hundreds of people have been injured and thousands of homes damaged. Tens to hundreds of people involved at a beach festival in the city are also missing, Indonesia’s disaster agency said earlier. The 3m high tsunami was triggered by the earthquake and smashed into two cities and several settlements on Sulawesi island at dusk on Friday. Palu, which has a population of 380,000, was strewn with debris from fallen buildings, including a shopping complex and a large mosque. The city is built around a narrow bay which is said to have magnified the force of the tsunami water as it travelled inland. A large bridge spanning a coastal river in the nearby city of Donggala, home to nearly 300,000 people, collapsed. Power and telecommunications to the region have been cut off by the disaster and the roads are damaged, leaving rescuers struggling to reach those in need. Mr Nugroho said essential aircraft can land at Palu airport but AirNav, which oversees aircraft navigation, said that the runway is cracked and the control tower damaged. A 21-year-old air traffic controller was killed in the quake, after he stayed in the tower to ensure a flight he had just cleared for departure got airborne safely. Indonesian president Joko Widodo told reporters on Friday that he had called on the country’s military chief to assist with the search efforts and evacuations as needed. United Nations spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said UN officials were in contact with Indonesian authorities and “stand ready to provide support as required”. Indonesia is vulnerable to earthquakes because of its location on the Ring of Fire, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.