Indonesia’s death toll from a 7.4 magnitude earthquake and tsunami that struck the island of Sulawesi has risen to 384.
Many of the victims were found under collapsed buildings, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman at National Disaster Mitigation Agency, told reporters in Jakarta. More than 540 people were injured, he said Saturday afternoon. Many of the dead were found at beaches near Palu.
Indonesia’s 17,000 islands are prone to earthquakes because the country straddles the Ring of Fire, an arc of fault lines and volcanoes that causes frequent seismic upheavals. At least 160,000 people were killed on Sumatra Island as a result of a 9.1 magnitude earthquake and tsunami on Boxing Day in 2004.
A tsunami of as high as three meters hit the coast on Friday after a massive quake that damaged thousands of buildings in Palu and caused a major power failure and cut communication, Nugroho said. More than 350 people were injured and are being treated in local hospitals, he said. The agency has yet to receive information from the town of Donggala because of communication problems.
The earthquake also damaged roads, making rescue efforts difficult. The agency and the military will deploy additional rescue workers on Saturday, Nugroho said.
Palu airport will be closed until 7 p.m. Saturday, the tourism ministry said in an emailed statement. The airport was opened at 11 a.m only for emergency and relief efforts, state air-navigation Airnav Indonesia said in emailed statement.