Published: Wed, October 03, 2018
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

More than 830 dead as tsunami and quake devastate Indonesia

More than 830 dead as tsunami and quake devastate Indonesia

The number of people confirmed killed after a tsunami and natural disaster in Indonesia rose dramatically to 832 on Sunday, Indonesian authorities said.

The official Antara agency quoted the head of the national disaster agency giving the latest toll in the coastal city of Palu, while authorities warned casualties were "increasing" as news arrived from remote areas cut off by the 7.5-magnitude quake and 1.5-metre (five feet) high tsunami.

There were also concerns over the whereabouts of hundreds of people preparing for a beach festival due to start Friday evening, the disaster agency said.

In some places, the water rose as high as 20 feet.

After his hotel collapsed, Demon told VOA's Indonesian service that he headed for higher ground along with a woman who had suffered injuries from debris including wood from collapsed buildings picked up by the waves.

Pictures supplied by the agency showed a badly damaged shopping mall in Palu where at least one floor had collapsed onto the storey below, while other photographs showed major damage to buildings and large cracks across pavements. A large bridge with yellow arches had collapsed.

The geography of the city, which sits at the end of a long, narrow bay, could have magnified the size of the tsunami, it said.

Hospitals were overwhelmed by the influx of those injured, with many people being treated in the open air.

Dramatic videos show rising waves smashing into buildings and people running away in fear. Within minutes a wall of water crashes onto the shore, carrying away buildings and cars.

Nearly 17,000 people have sought refuge in 24 shelters, according to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency. Roads and infrastructure are poor in many areas, making access hard in the best of conditions.

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The Jakarta Post reported that one of the air traffic controllers, Anthonius Gunawan Agung, 21, died after he jumped off the traffic control tower when the natural disaster hit the area.

Mr Nugroho said essential aircraft can land at Palu airport's though AirNav, which oversees aircraft navigation, although the runway is cracked and the control tower damaged.

Ricoh said there was no immediate plan to search for the inmates because the prison staff and police were consumed with the search and rescue effort. "We don't even have time yet to report this incident to our superiors", he said.

Indonesia's president said on Friday night that he had instructed the security minister to co-ordinate the government's response to the quake and tsunami.

Jokowi also told reporters in his hometown of Solo that he called on the country's military chief to help with search and rescue efforts.

Sulawesi has a history of religious tensions between Muslims and Christians, with violent riots erupting in the town of Poso, not far from Palu, two decades ago.

The shallow 7.5 magnitude tremor was more powerful than a series of quakes that killed hundreds on the Indonesian island of Lombok in July and August.

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.

Earlier this year, a series of powerful quakes hit Lombok, killing more than 550 people on the holiday island and neighbouring Sumbawa.

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