Rescue efforts in Indonesia after quake and tsunami

The damage caused by earthquake and tsunami in Palu Central Sulawesi

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, told reporters on Sunday none of Indonesia's tsunami buoys, one type of instrument used to detect the waves, had been operating since 2012.

"The death toll is believed to be still increasing since many bodies were still under the wreckage, while many have not been reached", he said.

The impact is significant, but the scope of the destruction is unclear because communications are down and emergency teams have not reached all affected areas.

Satellite imagery provided by regional relief teams showed the severe damage at some of the area's major seaports, with large ships tossed on land, quays and bridges trashed and shipping containers thrown around. Aerial video also showed the battered coastline surrounding Palu. Residents were also seen making their way back to badly damaged homes to try to pick through whatever belongings they could salvage to take away.

Hundreds of people who were preparing for a beach festival to celebrate Palu's anniversary were unaccounted for, he said.

The situation in outlying areas was even less clear.

About 16,000 displaced people needed clean water, Nugroho said, while 540 were injured, many getting treatment in tents.

President Joko Widodo is scheduled to visit evacuation centres in Palu on Sunday. Most people slept outdoors, fearing strong aftershocks.

One witness recounted to the AP how violently his hotel shook during the quake and that he didn't know what happened to his wife and daughter.

"There was no time to save ourselves. I was squeezed into the ruins of the wall, I think", said Haris, adding that his family was in town for a wedding. "I heard my wife cry for help, but then silence".

She said the charity worked with about 4000 children in the affected area.

The twin disasters - a 7.5-magnitude quake, and the swirling wall of water it unleashed - killed at least 405 people in Palu and destroyed thousands of buildings there, including a shopping mall, a hotel, seaside restaurants and several mosques.

The confirmed death toll of 832 looked certain to rise as rescuers slowly reached devastated outlying communities hit on Friday by a 7.5 magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami waves as high as six meters (20 feet). Last month, a powerful quake on the island of Lombok killed 505 people.

Mass graves were being readied Monday for hundreds of victims of an Indonesian quake-tsunami as authorities battled to stave off disease and reach desperate people still trapped under shattered buildings.

A mosque heavily damaged by the quake was half submerged and a shopping mall was reduced to a crumpled hulk.

The Times reported that the disaster levelled large swathes of the city in addition to nearby coastal communities, with thousands of structures destroyed.

"The 1996 quake - a shallow thrust faulting natural disaster likely to have occurred on the regional subduction zone system at depth beneath the shallow crust - resulted in approximately 10 fatalities, over 60 injuries, and significant building damage in the local region", the USGS wrote. Rahmansyah, who has one name, said many bodies have been pulled out of the debris already.

The disaster agency said a tsunami warning system, which might have saved lives, had not worked for six years due to a lack of money. "I hope I find them - I am going to fight to find them". Convoys carrying food, water and fuel headed towards the city while a stream of residents headed out. I haven't got any information on them until this moment.

Photos released earlier by the Indonesian air force and the disaster management agency showed collapsed buildings and bridges, and the injured lying in a yard in front of a hospital and waiting for treatment. Roads were buckled and cracked.

As many as 2.4 million people could have felt the quake, the disaster agency said.

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