Indonesia: Death toll jumps to 400 after earthquake and tsunami

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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.

TRAVEL GAZETTE – INDONESIAN emergency services are rushing to rescue victims of a huge earthquake which has left over 400 people dead.

A tsunami was triggered by the powerful 7.5 magnitude earthquake on Friday evening.

Witnesses reported huge waves sweeping through the popular tourist resort of Palu on Sulawesi island.  Amateur videos broadcast by local TV stations show waves rushing into coastal buildings, ravaging homes and scattering debris.

This coastal tourist town, which has some 350,000 inhabitants, was hit by a wave of 1.5 meters. Powerful aftershocks continued rattle the area on Saturday, with waves of three meters.

Hundreds of people had gathered on the beach for the city’s anniversary celebration. Many of them are missing.

The tsunami swept away houses in Palu, the capital of central Sulawesi province. It also struck a smaller city, Donggala, closer to the epicenter of the quake 80 kilometers away.

“Many bodies have been found along the coastline because of the tsunami, but the number is still unknown,” said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the Indonesian Disaster Prevention Agency.

Military planes loaded with humanitarian aid took off from Jakarta, according to the Minister of Security. The runway and control tower at Palu airport have been damaged, but should be reopened quickly, officials say.

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