Indonesia Tsunami-Earthquake: Death toll climbs to 832, authorities prepare for mass burials

The death toll in Indonesia’s Suwalesi island alarmingly climbed to 832, following an earthquake and a Tsunami that crashed the town of Palu and trapped dozens under half-decapitated buildings, Reuters reported. Landslides hit nearby villages, engulfing more citizens.

“Grieve for the people of Central Sulawesi, we all grieve together,” President Joko Widodo said on Twitter late on Sunday.

A region north of Palu which holds around 300,000 people-Donggala, has been cut off from communications since Friday.

“We haven’t received reports from the three other areas. Communication is still down, power is still out. We don’t know for sure what is the impact,” Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, told a news conference.

Five foreigners – three French, one South Korean and one Malaysian – were among the missing, Nugroho said.

Authorities were preparing a mass grave in Palu to bury the dead as soon as possible after they were identified to prevent the spread of disease, he said on Twitter on Monday.

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

Earlier, 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.

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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