Heroes of the havoc
Tsunami saviours risked their lives to rescue others
TALES of heroism and devastation began to emerge last night in the aftermath of the earthquake and 3m-high tsunami that slammed into the Indonesian Island of Sulawesi.
As the death toll soared toward 400 in the city of Palu alone, it emerged that many victims had been taking part in a beach festival celebrating the city’s anniversary.
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency, said: “When the tsunami
threat arose yesterday people were still doing their activities on the beach and did not immediately run and they became victims. The tsunami didn’t come by itself, it dragged cars, logs, houses, it hit everything on land.”
As the tsunami struck at a speed of 800km/h, some people climbed high into the treetops and survived, he said. Among the heroes of the disaster was 21-yearold air traffic controller
Anthonius Gunawan Agung, who stayed in the control tower to make sure a passenger jet took off safely.
After seeing the plane into the air he jumped from the tower when he thought it was collapsing. He died later in hospital from his injuries.
Airport spokesman Yohanes Sirait said his colleagues had evacuated the building when they felt the earthquakes, but he stayed.
“We felt a deep heartbreak, may God give Anthonius the best place beside him, along ong with other victims of Donggaonggala earthquake,” ake,” Mr Sirait said.
As strong ong aftershocks continued to t rock k the th area, officials said “extensive damage” had devastated houses, hospitals, shopping malls and hotels in the city of 380,000.
Pictures from the devastation zone showed bodies lining the streets, covered with sheets, blankets and whatever else came to hand. Last night more than 500 people were noted as being injured, but that number is expected to rise sharply.
Mr Nugroho said a bridge had washed away and the main highway had been cut due to a landslide, while electricity and communications were completely out.
There were also fears for the nearby towns of Donggala and Mamuju, which rescuers had not been able to reach by last night.
Dr Komang Adi Sujendra,
from f the th local l l hospital, issued an urgent appeal for help on Twitter. “At the moment, in our hospital, electricity is out all over Palu, roads are cracked, the phone network doesn’t work,” he said. “We are hoping for any help. We need tents, medicine, canvas, nurses …”
Indonesian President Joko Widodo said the military was being called in to the disasterstruck region to help searchand-rescue teams get to victims and find bodies.
On his official Twitter account, Mr Widodo said he was monitoring the situation and preparing for any postearthquake emergencies.
“May our brothers and sisters remain calm and be safe,” he wrote.
Residents carry a victim from hiscar after the tsunami hit Palu. Picture:AFP
Damage caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Palu.