The death toll from an earthquake and tsunami that devastated part of the island of Sulawesi has risen to 1,203 with the total number expected to climb higher still.
The tsunami, which was triggered after a magnitude-7.5 earthquake, ripped through the Pacific Ring of Fire and crashed into the Palu at 500mph, causing widespread destruction into the evening on Friday.
Figures collected by the National Police Headquarters put the number killed at 1,203 people. The death toll is expected to climb even higher. Search and rescue team have struggled to reach cut-off communities feared wiped out by the disaster.
Indonesian National Search and Rescue Agency spokesman Sutopo Nugroho said access to Donggala, as well as the towns of Sigi and Boutong, is still limited and there are no comprehensive reports from those areas.
Government officials said rescuers could hear screams from within the rubble of several buildings on Saturday evening as they battled through the night and into Sunday to free those trapped.
‘The death is believed to be still increasing since many bodies were still under the wreckage while many have not able to be reached,’ Nugroho said.
Fears are mounting for the the fishing town of Donggala, which was closer to the epicenter of the quake, but which rescuers have not been able to reach.
The town of Mamuju was also severely affected but currently impossible to access due to damaged roads and disrupted telecommunications.
Meanwhile criticisms have been levelled at the country’s geophysics agency for lifting the tsunami warning 34 minutes after it was first issued, which may have led to confusion and exacerbated the death toll.
Tsunami sensors missed huge wave in Indonesia
Indonesia, (Daily Mail), 30 September 2018 -Indonesia’s geophysics agency lifted a tsunami warning just 34 minutes after it was first issued, as censors missed the warning signs for a tsunami that killed 1,203 people.
The geophysics agency (BMKG) faced a storm of criticism on Saturday on social media, with many questioning if the tsunami warning was lifted too soon.
The agency said it followed standard operating procedure and made the call to ‘end’ the warning based on data available from the closest tidal sensor, around 200km (125 miles) from Palu.
Officials said the death toll was likely to rise.