Tsunami strikes city after quake
7.5 temblor roils Indonesia’s Palu with 2-meter-high wave
A tsunami of up to two meters hit a small city on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi after a major 7.5 quake struck offshore on Friday, collapsing buildings and washing a vessel ashore, but there was no word on casualties, officials said.
Authorities received information that Palu had been hit, said Dwikorita Karnawati, who heads Indonesia’s meteorology and geophysics agency BMKG amid a rapid series of aftershocks.
“The 1.5- to 2-meter tsunami has receded,” Karnawati told journalists.
“It ended. The situation is chaotic, people are running on the streets and buildings collapsed. There is a ship washed ashore,” she added.
BMKG had earlier issued a tsunami warning, but lifted it within the hour.
Amateur footage broadcast by local TV stations showed waters crashing into houses along Palu’s shoreline.
The national search and rescue agency will deploy a large ship and helicopters to aid with the operation, said the agency chief Muhammad Syaugi, adding that he had not been able to contact his team in Palu.
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 and water sports.
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.
Earlier on Friday, Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency ( BNPB) said it was having difficulty reaching some authorities in Palu and the fishing town of Donggala, closest to the epicenter of the quake 80 kilometers away at a shallow 10 kilometers underground. Palu airport was closed. The area was hit by a lighter quake earlier in the day, which destroyed some houses, killing one person and injuring at least 10 in Donggala, authorities said.
Some people took to Twitter saying they could not contact loved ones. “My family in Palu is unreachable,” a Twitter user named @noyvionella said.
The US Geological Survey put the magnitude of the second quake at a strong 7.5, after first saying it was 7.7.
More than 600,000 people live in Donggala and Palu.
“The [second] quake was felt very strongly, we expect more damage and more victims,” Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, BNPB spokesman said.
The Southeast Asian archipelago nation lies on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” where tectonic plates collide and many of the world’s volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.
This summer, a series of powerful quakes hit Lombok, killing over 550 people on the holiday island and neighboring Sumbawa.
Some 1,500 people were injured and about 400,000 residents were displaced after their homes were destroyed.
Medical personnel provide care to a patient following an earthquake in Donggala, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia.