Deadly quake, tsunami hit Sulawesi

Death toll expected to keep rising

Five foreigners have been reported missing and 66 declared safe following a deadly earthquake and tsunami that devastated Indonesia’s Central Sulawesi on Friday.

Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) told reporters yesterday that three French citizens and a Malaysian tourist remain missing, while a South Korean is believed to be trapped under the rubble of the Roa Roa hotel in Palu.

Death toll expected to keep rising

Dozens of people were believed to be trapped in the rubble of several hotels and a mall in the city of Palu, which was hit by waves as high as six metres following the 7.5-magnitude earthquake, CNBC reported.

As of Sunday, the death toll from the disaster was at 832, and is expected to rise into the thousands as rescuers reach outlying communities.

Questions now surround the failure of the tsunami warning system put in place after the 2004 tsunami catastrophe, triggered by a quake off Sumatra.

On Friday, Indonesia’s meteorological and geophysics agency BMKG had issued a tsunami warning, and withdrew it after 34 minutes later.

In some areas where there was no electricity to power sirens, no alerts were sounded to warn of the tsunami.

The confusion led up to hundreds gathering on a Palu beach to celebrate a festival, before the tsunami waves hit.

AP reported that a new system of sensors that could have warned residents had for years been stuck in testing phase, leaving them to rely on limited information from existing tidal gauge stations.

Meanwhile, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the BNPB, told reporters at a press conference that none of Indonesia’s tsunami buoys, an instrument used to detect the waves, had been operating since 2012 due to funding problems, according to the CNBC report.

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