Sunday Tasmanian - - Front Page -

NEARLY 400 peo­ple were killed when a pow­er­ful quake sent a tsunami bar­relling into the In­done­sian is­land of Su­lawesi, of­fi­cials said.

Hos­pi­tals strug­gled to cope with hun­dreds of in­jured and res­cuers scram­bled to reach the stricken re­gion.

The na­tional disas­ter agency put the of­fi­cial death toll so far at 384, all in the tsunami-struck city of Palu, but warned the toll is likely to rise.

Spokesman Su­topo Purwo Nu­groho said four hos­pi­tals in Palu re­ported hun­dreds were also in­jured.

He said the fate of “tens to hun­dreds” at a beach fes­ti­val in Palu when the tsunami struck was un­known. “Many vic­tims” were un­ac­counted for.

The coast has been dev­as­tated in cen­tral Su­lawesi where the 3m-high tsunami, trig­gered by a mag­ni­tude 7.5 earth­quake, smashed into two cities and other set­tle­ments.

Mr Nu­groho said the tsunami hit Palu, the cap­i­tal of cen­tral Su­lawesi prov­ince, as well as the smaller city of Dong­gala and sev­eral other coastal set­tle­ments.

Palu, a city of more than 380,000, was strewn with de­bris from col­lapsed build­ings.

The city is built on a nar­row bay that mag­ni­fied the force of the tsunami waters as they raced into the tight in­let.

Pho­to­graphs from Palu showed par­tially cov­ered bod­ies on the ground near the shore, the morn­ing af­ter tsunami waves hit the city.

Hos­pi­tals were over­whelmed by the in­jured, with many be­ing treated out­side, while other sur­vivors helped to re­trieve the re­mains of those who died. One man was seen car­ry­ing the muddy corpse of a child.

In Dong­gala, home to about 300,000, a large bridge with arches that spanned a coastal river had col­lapsed.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions with the area are dif­fi­cult be­cause power and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions are cut, ham­per­ing search and res­cue ef­forts.

In­done­sia’s geo­physics agency con­firmed the tsunami oc­curred af­ter the agency orig­i­nally called off its tsunami warn­ing.

In­done­sian TV showed a smart­phone video of a wave hit­ting Palu, with peo­ple scream­ing and run­ning. The footage shows small restau­rants near the Palu Grand Mall swept away.

“I just ran when I saw the waves hit­ting homes on the coast­line,” Palu res­i­dent Rusi­danto said.

In­done­sian Pres­i­dent Joko Wi­dodo called on the coun­try’s mil­i­tary chief to help with the search and res­cue.

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