DUSK-HOUR HOR­ROR RIPS SU­LAWESI

NEARLY 400 KILLED 17,000 EVAC­U­ATED

The Gulf Today - - FRONT PAGE -

PALU: Nearly 400 peo­ple were killed when a pow­er­ful quake sent a tsunami bar­relling into the In­done­sian is­land of Su­lawesi, of­fi­cials said on Satur­day, as hos­pi­tals strug­gled to cope with hun­dreds of in­jured and res­cuers scram­bled to reach the stricken re­gion.

CON­DO­LENCES

UAE Pres­i­dent His High­ness Sheikh Khal­ifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has sent a ca­ble of con­do­lences to Pres­i­dent Joko Wi­dodo of In­done­sia, for the vic­tims of the earth­quake.

Vice Pres­i­dent and Prime Min­is­ter of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai His High­ness Sheikh Mo­hammed Bin Rashid Al Mak­toum and His High­ness Sheikh Mo­hamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Com­man­der of the UAE Armed Forces, sent sim­i­lar ca­bles to the In­done­sian Pres­i­dent.

WARN­ING MESS-UP

BMKG, In­done­sia’s geo­physics agency, lifted a tsunami warn­ing 34 min­utes af­ter it was first is­sued fol­low­ing the earth­quake. It faced crit­i­cism on Satur­day on so­cial me­dia, with many ques­tion­ing if the tsunami warn­ing was lifted too soon.

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

Some 540 peo­ple were badly in­jured, it added.

Wi­dodo said the mil­i­tary was be­ing called in to the disas­ter-struck re­gion to help search-and-res­cue teams get to vic­tims and find bod­ies. There were also con­cerns over the where­abouts of hun­dreds of peo­ple pre­par­ing for a beach fes­ti­val that had been due to start Fri­day even­ing, the disas­ter agency said.

Hos­pi­tals were over­whelmed by the in­flux of in­jured, with many peo­ple be­ing treated in the open

air, while other sur­vivors helped to re­trieve the re­mains of those who died.

The 1.5 me­tre-high tsunami was trig­gered by a strong quake that brought down build­ings and sent lo­cals lee­ing for higher ground as a churn­ing wall of wa­ter crashed into Palu, where there were wide­spread power black­outs.

Dra­matic video footage cap­tured from the top loor of a park­ing ramp in Palu, nearly 80km from the quake’s epi­cen­tre, showed waves bring down sev­eral build­ings and in­un­date a large mosque.

About 17,000 peo­ple had been evac­u­ated, the disas­ter agency said, and that ig­ure is ex­pected to rise.

The shal­low 7.5 mag­ni­tude tremor was more pow­er­ful than a se­ries of quakes that killed hun­dreds on the In­done­sian is­land of Lom­bok in July and Au­gust.

The mas­sive tremors were felt hun­dreds of kilo­me­tres away and there has been lit­tle word about ca­su­al­ties in Dong­gala, a re­gion north of Palu where at least one per­son was re­ported dead in Fri­day’s quakes.

The quake hit just off cen­tral Su­lawesi at a depth of 10 kilo­me­tres just be­fore 1100 GMT -- early even­ing in In­done­sia -- the US Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey said.

Such shal­low quakes tend to be more de­struc­tive. Pic­tures supplied by the disas­ter agency showed a badly dam­aged shop­ping mall in Palu where at least one loor had col­lapsed onto the storey be­low, while other pho­to­graphs showed ma­jor dam­age to build­ings and large cracks across pave­ments.

Homes and a lo­cal ho­tel were lat­tened while a land­mark city bridge was de­stroyed. Video from the scene showed the dou­ble-arched, yel­low bridge had col­lapsed with its two metal arches twisted as cars bobbed in the wa­ter be­low.

A re­porter on the scene saw wide­spread dam­age some 50m in­land.

Reuters/ Agence France-presse

A dam­aged shop­ping cen­tre in Palu, Cen­tral Su­lawesi, In­done­sia, on Satur­day. Be­low: The beach in Palu was the worst af­fected in the tsunami.

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