Indonesia Tsunami-Earthquake: Death toll rises to 384

Image Courtesy: Daily Express

The death toll of the Tsunami-hit Indonesian city of Palu rose to 384 in just a few hours after a massive 7.5 magnitude earthquake hit the coastal town on Saturday.

Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the 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.

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.

It is expected that the city’s airport will reopen in the afternoon after being closed as its runway and air traffic control tower was damaged in the quake, authorities said.

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.

Indonesia is known to be regularly a victim of earthquakes, being in the center of the Pacific Ring of Fire. Earlier, in August, major earthquakes led to upto 500 people being killed in Lombok and destruction of several villages along the northern coast.

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