Earthquakes, tsunami hits island of Sulawesi

Most victims were hit by debris and falling blocks of concretes. No tsunami was triggered this time, but more than 100 were killed by fallen buildings.

"We need heavy equipment for this evacuation process", Nugroho said.

AirNav said one of its air traffic controllers, aged 21, died in the quake after staying in the tower to ensure a flight he'd just cleared for departure got airborne safely.

People walk around after Palu quake-tsunami.

"All national potential will be deployed, and tomorrow morning we will deploy Hercules and helicopters to provide assistance in tsunami-affected areas".

A 6.1 magnitude foreshock struck earlier in the day, killing at least one person.

Indonesia's geophysics agency confirmed the tsunami occurred after the agency originally called off its tsunami warning.

The ruin of a mosque badly damaged by quake and tsunami is seen in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Indonesia's disaster agency said some people scaled trees to escape the huge waves.

Indonesia's president says he instructed the security minister to coordinate the government's response to a quake and tsunami that hit central Sulawesi.

A man looks for his belongings amid the debris of his destroyed house in Palu after a strong quake and tsunami struck the area.

Indonesia sits on the seismically Pacific Ring of Fire and is regularly hit by earthquakes.

'There are reports that many buildings collapsed in the quake, ' Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman of Indonesia's disaster mitigation agency BNPB said in news briefing in Jakarta.

He told a news conference Saturday that hospitals in the city are also treating several hundred injured and many victims still remain uncounted.

The Philippines extended its condolences to Indonesia on Saturday, September 29, after a massive natural disaster and the tsunami that it triggered struck Sulawesi island, claiming almost 400 lives.

People watch from higher ground as a huge wave knocks down buildings and sweeps away cars on Sulawesi island.

Dramatic video of the tsunami hitting Palu shows the high waves sweeping away several buildings and then the large tilted mosque in the town, about 80km from the quake's epicentre.

NPR's Anthony Kuhn tells our Newscast unit that this is the most serious quake to hit Indonesia since August, when a series of tremors killed hundreds on Lombok Island.

The national disaster agency on Saturday put the official death toll so far at 384.

"Many dead bodies, but the exact number we don't know".

He said the closest tide gauge, which measures changes in sea level, only recorded an "insignificant", six-centimetre (2.5 inches) wave and did not account for the giant waves near Palu.

Rescuers have struggled to reach victims as their efforts are hindered by damaged roads and broken communications.

"There are 30 dead at our hospital". Over 500 people were killed.

Donggala resident Mohammad Fikri said by telephone that he ran from his house but there wasn't great panic in his neighbourhood.

He said thousands of houses, hospitals, shopping malls and hotels collapsed and a landslide has cut off Palu's main highway.

Nugroho said the runway of Palu's airport is not damaged and essential aircraft can land there. The water smashed into buildings and the damaged mosque (continued below).

  • Jon Douglas