Indonesia earthquake, tsunami: Death toll passes 1,200, could rise

A tsunami triggered by a 7.5-magnitude earthquake has left hundreds of people dead in several coastal towns in Indonesia, including the hard hit town of Palu on the island of Sulawesi.

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More than 1,200 people were killed when they were either swept away by the powerful tsunami or died from injuries sustained in the massive earthquake.

Indonesian authorities expect the death toll to continue rising as rubble is cleared away in the devastated towns.

Here are the latest updates:

Update 3:19 a.m. EDT Oct. 2: At least 1,234 people have died after an earthquake and tsunami struck Indonesia, the nation's disaster agency said Tuesday. The agency said 799 people were severely hurt.

The Associated Press reported that the death toll will likely rise when numbers from Sigi and Balaroa are released.  Read more here.

Update 3:22 a.m. EDT Oct. 1: At least 844 people have died after an earthquake and tsunami struck Indonesia, officials said Monday. The death toll climbed slightly from earlier reports. Read more here.


Update 11:30 p.m. EDT Sept. 30: Indonesian officials are calling for international help in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake and tsunami.

"We are trying our best. Time is so important here to save people," the head of the national search and rescue team, Muhammad Syaugi, said, according to the Associated Press. "Heavy equipment is on the way," he said as government officials welcomed any outside help that might be available.

The number of people buried under the rubble of collapsed buildings is unknown, but rescuers reported that the cries of victims that were heard during rescue operations Saturday had gone silent by Sunday.

Explore>> Related: Photos: Destruction in Indonesia in aftermath of earthquake and tsunami

More than 830 people were killed in the disaster and that number is expected to continue rising, according to government officials.

Update 7:30 p.m. EDT Sept. 30: Rescuers and emergency teams desperately searched Sunday for survivors of the earthquake and tsunami who may be buried under debris and rubble, but they're having a difficult time getting heavy equipment to help search through collapsed buildings, according to The Associated Press.

Voices were heard under the ruins of an eight-story hotel in Palu Saturday and a 25-year-old woman was pulled out alive from the wreckage, the AP reported.


By Sunday afternoon the voices had gone silent. Authorities estimated as many as 50 people could have been trapped inside.

Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo toured the devastated town of Palu on Sunday and said a shortage of heavy equipment was preventing rescuers from reaching survivors.

"There are many challenges," Jokowi said. "We have to do many things soon, but conditions do not allow us to do so."

Indonesian officials also said they were planning a mass burial of at least 300 people. A disaster official said the burial needed to happen soon for “health and religious reasons.” Most of the residents of Palu are Muslims.

Harrowing video of the tsunami rolling in Friday shows people unaware of the danger driving down a coastal road or walking in front of their hotel.


Update 2:15 p.m. EDT Sept. 30:

Indonesia's disaster agency said at least 832 people were confirmed dead in the earthquake and tsunami, The Associated Press reported.

“The death toll is believed to be still increasing, since many bodies were still under the wreckage, while many have not been reached,” disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

The U.S. Department of State issued a statement on the disaster Sunday:

“The United States conveys its condolences and support to all of those in Indonesia affected by the earthquake and tsunami that struck Central Sulawesi on September 28. U.S. Mission Indonesia is closely monitoring the situation, and has not received reports of U.S. citizens affected. The United States and Indonesia are Strategic Partners and friends, and we stand ready to assist in the relief effort.”

The statement comes after United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Saturday that thoughts and prayers are with the people of the country.


"Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of #Indonesia following the Sept. 28 earthquake and tsunami that struck Central Sulawesi," Pompeo tweeted. "@usembassyjkt is closely monitoring the situation and we stand ready to assist as needed."

Original report:

A tsunami triggered by a 7.5-magnitude earthquake caused the death toll on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi to rise to 384, Reuters reported Saturday.

The Jakarta Post reported the central Sulawesi city of Palu took the full brunt of the tsunami.

Strong aftershocks rocked the island, and waves up to 18 feet swept through Palu, a tourist city on Sulawesi, located east of Borneo.

“When the (tsunami) threat arose yesterday, people were still doing their activities on the beach and did not immediately run, and they became victims,” Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman of Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency BNPB, said in a news briefing in Jakarta.

Credit: Rifki

Credit: Rifki

Palu was preparing for a beach festival Friday night when the tsunami hit, Reuters reported. The city of more than 380,000 residents is built around a narrow bay, which officials said magnified the force of the tsunami as the waters poured into the inlet, reported.

Thousands of buildings in Palu either collapsed or were swept away by the tsunami's waters, CNN reported, leaving scores trapped in the debris, sleeping outdoors or severely wounded.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.