Nearly 400 people were killed in an earthquake and tsunami on the island of Sulawesi, officials said Saturday morning, noting the likelihood of more victims on other islands.
Roughly 384 people are confirmed dead in the city of Palu after a tsunami hit Friday evening on the heels of a 7.5-magnitude earthquake, according to Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the island’s disaster agency. More than 540 people were injured and 29 are missing, he told the Associated Press.
But those numbers applied only to Palu. Communications are down in other coastal areas, such as Donggala, a small fishing community that was also reportedly slammed by the tsunami. The tsunami’s waves were about 16 feet high, and a video reported to have been taken in Palu showed a wave smashing into a large building before water consumed nearby structures.
— Ramadhani Eko P (@ramadhaniep) September 28, 2018
“We have found corpses from the earthquake as well as bodies swept up by the tsunami,” Sutopo said in a television interview Saturday, adding that thousands of houses have been destroyed along with an 80-room hotel. Earthquakes and tsunamis are not uncommon in this part of the world.
Indonesia is a vast archipelago that lies at the margins of the Pacific Ocean where an intersection of large layers of the Earth’s crust causes frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The eastern part of the archipelago sits atop numerous smaller blocks called microplates. The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake occurred within one of these smaller plates.
At least 91 people died from a magnitude 7.0 earthquake that hit the Indonesian island of Lombok in August, Indonesian officials said at the time. U.S. Geological Services estimated that the earthquake occurred about 6.5 miles inland. (RELATED: Magnitude 7 Earthquake Shakes Indonesian Island, At Least 91 Dead)
Over 200 people were injured while another 20,000 people were placed in shelters due to thousands of homes and buildings suffering damages, the Associated Press reported. Indonesia’s Disaster Mitigation Agency issued the possibility of a tsunami warning at the time of the Lombok quake.
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