| 7.7°C Dublin

Killer quake and tsunami hit Indonesian tourist island

Close

A child passes a collapsed home in Donggala following the 6.1 magnitude Inset, another destroyed house

A child passes a collapsed home in Donggala following the 6.1 magnitude Inset, another destroyed house

A child passes a collapsed home in Donggala following the 6.1 magnitude Inset, another destroyed house

A tsunami has caused an unknown number of deaths after hitting a town on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi following a major quake.

Buildings collapsed at the tourist hotspot and power was cut when the giant wave struck.

The tsunami was up to two metres high when it hit beaches as dusk fell yesterday in Palu, a growing tourist resort, and the nearby fishing town of Donggala, closest to the epicentre of the 7.5 magnitude quake 27km away.

"The earthquake and tsunami caused several casualties while initial reports show victims died in the rubble of a collapsing building," a spokesman said.

"The number of casualties and the full impact is still being calculated."

The disaster caused a power outage that cut communications in Donggala and surrounding areas.

Officials said aftershocks, the communications breakdown and the power outage made it hard to co-ordinate rescue efforts.

More than 600,000 people live in Palu and Donggala.

"The 1.5 to two-metre tsunami has receded," said Dwikorita Karnawati, chief of Indonesia's meteorology and geophysics agency.

"The situation is chaotic. People are running in the streets and buildings have collapsed. There is a ship washed ashore."

Crashing

The agency had issued a tsunami warning but lifted it within the hour.

Amateur footage on local TV stations showed waters crashing into houses along Palu's shoreline, scattering shipping containers and flooding into a mosque in the city.

The search and rescue agency was deploying a large ship and helicopter mission to aid the operation, said agency chief Muhammad Syaugi, adding that he had not been able to contact his team in Palu.

The armed forces and police were also providing troops and equipment.

Oil company Pertamina said its fuel depot in Donggala had been damaged in the incident, though there was no oil spill. Fuel tanks had shifted in the quake and ship loading facilities were disabled.

Palu, hit by a 6.2 magnitude quake in 2005 which killed one person, is a tourist resort at the end of a narrow bay famous for its beaches.

In 2004, an earthquake off the northern Indonesian island of Sumatra triggered a tsunami across the Indian Ocean, killing 226,000 people in 13 countries, including more than 120,000 in Indonesia.

Sulawesi was hit by a lighter quake earlier in the day, which destroyed some houses, killing one person and injuring at least 10 in Donggala.

Earthquakes which shook the same region during July and August killed upwards of 500 people.


Privacy