New Delhi: More than 400 people were killed and many swept away as tsunami waves triggered by a massive earthquake crashed into the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Authorities are expecting the toll to rise sharply today as news is still coming from the remote areas.
Thousands of homes, hospitals hotels, and shopping malls have been destroyed. Notably, the two cities –Palu and Donggala are home to more than 600,000 people. The country’s military had started sending cargo planes of relief aid from the capital.
The Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management spokesperson had said that telecommunications and air-transport experts arrived at the airport in Palu (the city most affected by the earthquake along with Donggala) and are working to repair some of the damaged electrical equipment.
The earthquake hit just off central Sulawesi at a depth of 10 km on Friday, the US Geological Survey had said. A tsunami warning was issued but lifted within the hour. A magnitude-6.1 quake earlier on Friday in the same region killed at least one person and led to the collapse of a number of buildings.
The disaster followed on from the earthquakes and aftershocks on Lombok island where 557 people died and nearly 400,000 were displaced between July 29 and August 19. The country’s deadliest earthquake with a magnitude of around 9.1 struck off the tip of Sumatra island in 2014, triggering a tsunami that killed nearly 280,000 people in Indonesia and other Indian Ocean nations.
Indonesia sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area of great seismic and volcanic activity, where some 7,000 earthquakes, mostly moderate, are recorded each year.