Nearly 50 confirmed dead after 7.5 natural disaster rocks Indonesia

30 September, 2018, 09:56 | Author: Charlene Valdez
  • Indonesia earthquake: Hundreds dead in Palu quake and tsunami

Rescue workers are hunting for survivors after a powerful quake hit the Indonesian island of Sulawesi and triggered a tsunami, killing at least 384 people.

The death toll from the quake and tsunami on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi jumped to 384 on Saturday, authorities said, with many of those killed swept away by giant waves as they played on the beach.

Anthonius Gunawan Agung, 21, was the only person left in the airport's control tower after the natural disaster, Australian broadcaster ABC reports.

Soon after the plane took off, the tower trembled, and Mr Agung made a decision to jump off the fourth floor of the tower, thinking the building could collapse any time.

It's believed the tsunami, confirmed by local agencies to be up to 10 feet tall, struck Donggala and Palu, a coastal town of about 330,000 after the alert was cancelled.

Dozens remain missing in the city of 335,000, some thought to be trapped in the debris of collapsed buildings.

However, he died before the helicopter arrived.

People stand in front of a damaged shopping mall after an earthquake hit the city of Palu on Indonesia's Sulawesi Island
Hundreds killed in Indonesia earthquake and tsunami

Yohannes Sirait, spokesman for Air Navigation Indonesia said the decision cost him his life, but potentially saved hundreds of others. He was just one month shy of his 22nd birthday.

In acknowledgement of his bravery and sacrifice, AirNav Indonesia officials raised his rank by two levels saying that he "demonstrated tremendous dedication" in providing flight safety.

Residents carry a bag containing the body of a tsunami victim in Palu.

Indonesia's Vice President Jusuf Kalla said the toll could rise to thousands.

Many locals are too afraid to go back indoors and have chose to sleep in the darkness outside following the residual tremors which have been occurring throughout the day.

"Communication is cut off".

Bodies covered the beaches in Palu on Saturday where a festival to celebrate the city's anniversary was supposed to have taken place the previous evening. The water smashed into buildings and the damaged mosque (continued below).

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Some people reportedly climbed 18ft trees to escape the tsunami and survived.

Dramatic video footage captured from the top floor of a parking ramp in Palu, almost 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the quake's epicentre, showed waves bring down several buildings and inundate a large mosque.

Images also showed bodies draped in blue tarps on roads near the beach, while others were laid out in rows on concrete foundations.

The news of his bravery comes as the death toll from the horrific tsunami soars to at least 400.

The city of Palu is home to more than 335,000 people, hundreds of whom were preparing for a beach festival that was set to start last night.

The powerful quake and tsunami that hit Indonesia's central Sulawesi province has claimed many victims, a disaster official said Saturday, as rescuers raced to reach the region and an AP reporter saw numerous bodies in a hard-hit city.

The country's military is sending cargo planes of relief aid from the capital, Jakarta.

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Palu's airport halted operations for 24 hours due to natural disaster damage, according to AirNav, which oversees airline traffic in Indonesia.

The city's airport is slated to reopen on Saturday afternoon after being closed as its runway and air traffic control tower was damaged in the quake, authorities said. The agency was widely criticised for withdrawing the warning too quickly, though officials said they estimated the waves had come within the time the warning was in force.

Strong aftershocks continue to rock the city.

Shortly after, a tsunami warning was issued by Indonesia's geophysics agency, then lifted.

"Those long hours on the road are going to mean hours lost getting assistance to people who need it in the next few days", she added.

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