Indonesia Tsunami Deaths Climb To 384, Leaves Tens Of Thousands Homeless

A powerful 7.5 magnitude earthquake and tsunami have killed at least 384 people in the city of Palu on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, rescue officials have said. Hundreds more have been injured and thousands of homes destroyed.

The figure is from the hard-hit city of Palu alone, where hundreds of people are injured and thousands of homes damaged or destroyed.

The tsunami triggered by a magnitude 7.5 earthquake smashed into two cities and several settlements on Sulawesi island at dusk Friday.

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesperson for Indonesia’s disaster agency, said authorities were still unable to reach areas worst hit by the 1.5-metre tsunami, such as the coastal city of Donggala.

Images emerged on Saturday morning showing that some areas have been almost entirely flattened, with roads split and buildings collapsed, including hospitals and a shopping mall. A large bridge in Donggala was totally destroyed by the wave, while the airport in Palu sustained damage to the runaway and a terminal tower.

Unconfirmed photos show dozens of corpses lined up and covered in cloth by the shoreline covered by debris. TV images showed dozens of injured people being treated in makeshift medical tents set up outdoors in public places.

Early witness reports said the tsunami had claimed lives on Talise beach in Palu, a city that is home to about 350,000 people. “Many corpses are scattered on the beach and floating on the surface of the sea,” Nining, a resident, told Kompas.com.

Indonesia is prone to earthquakes because of its location on the so-called Ring of Fire, an arc of volcanoes and faultlines 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. Some 1,500 people were injured and about 400,000 residents were displaced after their homes were destroyed.

In December 2004 a magnitude 9.1 quake off Sumatra in western Indonesia triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries.

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