Indonesia: Death toll tops 1,550 after destructive earthquake, tsunami

By Faith Eherts, AccuWeather meteorologist
By Eric Leister, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
October 04, 2018, 11:38:04 PM EDT


Over 1,550 people have died after a powerful 7.5 magnitude earthquake rocked the Indonesian island of Sulawesi last Friday and triggered a devastating tsunami. More than 1,000 others were injured by the combination of the earthquake and tsunami.

A majority of the deaths have been in the city of Palu, according to the Associated Press (AP). The city is home to more than 380,000 people. A mass burial began on Sunday and continued into Wednesday due to health and religious reasons.

Rescuers saved a 38-year-old man from beneath a destroyed building on Monday, three days after the earthquake caused it to collapse.

(AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana, File)

In this Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018, file photo, rescuers carry a survivor rescued from a restaurant building damaged by a massive earthquake and a tsunami in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia.

(AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana, File)

In this Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018, file photo, people survey the damage of a shopping mall following earthquakes and a tsunami in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia.

(AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana, File)

In this Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018, file photo, people survey the mosque damaged in a massive earthquake and a tsunami in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia.

(AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana, File)

In this Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018, file photo, a damaged shopping mall sits in flood water following earthquakes and a tsunami in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia.

(AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

People survey the damage following a massive earthquake and tsunami at Talise beach in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018. A mass burial of earthquake and tsunami victims was being prepared in a hard-hit city Monday as the need for heavy equipment to dig for survivors of the disaster that struck a central Indonesian island three days ago grows desperate.

(AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

People move through rubble and debris following a massive earthquake and tsunami at Talise beach in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

(AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

People queue for gasoline following a massive earthquake and tsunami at a gas station in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018.

(AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

People survey the damaged house and car following a massive earthquake and tsunami at Talise beach in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018.

(AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

A man inspects his damaged home following a massive earthquake and tsunami at Talise beach in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018.

(AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

An excavator is used to continue the search for victims in the rubble of the Roa-Roa Hotel following a massive earthquake and tsunami in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018.

(AP Photo/Rifki)

A man carry items he saved from the rubble following a major earthquake and tsunami in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018.

(AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

People survey outside the shopping mall which was damaged following earthquakes and a tsunami in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018. Rescuers try to reach trapped victims in collapsed buildings after hundreds of people are confirmed dead in a tsunami that hit two central Indonesian cities, sweeping away buildings with massive waves.


Officials fear that the death toll will continue to climb as crews sift through the rubble.

More than 70,000 other people have been left homeless following the disaster. Aid slowly arrived from multiple countries on Wednesday. More than 25 countries have offered assistance, including 50 medical professionals from Australia.

A passing shower or thunderstorm can briefly interfere with rescue and recovery efforts daily into Friday. Most of the time however, will be dry with times of clouds and sunshine and high temperatures near 32 C (90 F).

dmco earthquake 9/28


The earthquake was initially measured at a magnitude of 7.5 by the United States Geological Survey (USGS). About 10 minutes later, another quake struck the area, this one registering as a magnitude of 5.8.

A spokesperson for Indonesia's Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) confirmed that a tsunami occurred along a shoreline of Palu after the earthquake.

Indonesia AP 10/1

A man takes a photo of a car lifted into the air with his mobile phone following a massive earthquake and tsunami at Talise beach in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)


Houses were reportedly swept away and entire families were reported missing following the tsunami, according to the Associated Press. The 6-meter (20-foot) -tall tsunami impacted at least two cities, disrupting communication and power to the area.

A beach festival was ongoing in Palu, the capital of Central Sulawesi province, when the tsunami hit, the AP reported.

An official with Akris, the local disaster agency, said that many houses collapsed due to the powerful evening earthquake in areas that were not struck by the tsunami.

Indonesia earthquake AP

A department store building is seen heavily damaged by earthquake in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018. The powerful earthquake rocked the Indonesian island of Sulawesi on Friday, triggering a 3-meter-tall (10-foot-tall) tsunami that an official said swept away houses in at least two cities. (AP Photo/Rifki)


"It happened while we still have difficulties in collecting data from nine villages affected by the first quake,” he told the AP. “People ran out in panic.”

According to disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the Donggala area in central Sulawesi Province sustained significant damage.

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The earthquake and tsunami also allowed at least 1,200 inmates to escape from local prisons, according to Deutsche Welle.

On Wednesday, a volcano on the island erupted, but no new damage or evacuation orders were immediately reported.

The nation has suffered from other several powerful earthquakes in recent months, which have killed more than 500 people and caused widespread damage.

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