Death toll from Indonesian quake, tsunami rises to 832, Thai military ready to help
JAKARTA – The death toll from an earthquake and tsunami on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi rose to 832 on Sunday, the national disaster mitigation agency said, adding it assessed the affected area to be bigger than initially thought.
Many people were reported trapped in the rubble of buildings brought down in the 7.5 magnitude earthquake which struck on Friday and triggered tsunami waves as high as six meters (20 feet), agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told a news conference.
With communications knocked out, relief officials have not been able to get any information from Donggala regency, an area north of Palu that is closer to the epicenter of the 7.5 magnitude quake.
In Palu, more than 16,000 people were evacuated after the disaster struck.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan had ordered the three armed forces to be on the standby with necessary relief equipment to be flown to Indonesia to provide humanitarian and relief assistance once there is a request from Indonesia.
Defence Ministry spokesman Lt-Gen Kongcheep Tantravanich said the military had been instructed to coordinate closely with the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the military attaches in Indonesia to make sure that aid and medical assistance can be immediately flown to Indonesia in case it is needed.
Here are some key facts about Palu and Donggala, on the island of Sulawesi:
– Palu is the capital of Central Sulawesi province, located at the end of a narrow bay on the west coast of Sulawesi island, with an estimated population of 379,800 in 2017. The city was celebrating its 40th anniversary when the quake and tsunami hit.
– Donggala is a regency stretching along more than 300 km (180 miles) of coastline in the northwest of Sulawesi island. The regency, an administrative region below a province, had an estimated population of 299,200 in 2017.
– Fishing and farming are the mainstays of the Central Sulawesi province’s economy, especially the coastal region of Donggala. Nickel mining is also important in the province, but is mostly concentrated in Morowali, on the opposite coast of Sulawesi.
– Palu and Donggala have been hit by tsunamis several times in the past 100 years, according to Indonesia’s Disaster Mitigation Agency. In 1938, a tsunami killed more than 200 people and destroyed hundreds of houses in Donggala. A tsunami also struck western Donggala in 1996, killing nine.