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Indonesian troops head to disaster area

Indonesian troops head to disaster area”

A massive tidal wave, prompted by a 7.5 magnitude quake, killed hundreds of people in the Indonesian city of Palu after slamming into the narrow bay on Sulawesi island.

The disaster agency has said that essential aircraft can land at Palu's airport, though AirNav, which oversees aircraft navigation, said the runway was cracked and the control tower damaged.

The government would accept offers of help from 18 countries and it had also commandeered 20 excavators from mines and plantations to help with a shortage of equipment to dig through wreckage and clear blocked roads, he said. The monster waves from the 7.5-magnitude quake that occurred at dusk last Friday were unexpected, even by scientists.

The national search and rescue agency said one woman was rescued overnight in the Palu neighborhood of Balaroa, where houses were swallowed up when the natural disaster caused soil liquefaction.

Chief security minister Wiranto said on Monday the government was trying to meet survivors' immediate needs and would accept offers of global help.

President Joko Widodo visited the region, urging a "day and night" effort to rescue survivors. But the heavy toll also reflects insufficient awareness and preparedness, despite Indonesia experiencing 90 per cent of the world's quakes and bearing the brunt of the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, with 170,000 of the nearly 228,000 people killed in 14 countries being Indonesians.

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"Communication is limited, heavy machinery is limited... it's not enough for the numbers of buildings that collapsed", said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

President Joko Widodo "authorised us to accept global help for urgent disaster-response" the government's head of investment Tom Lembong said, as dozens of aid agencies and NGOs lined up to provide live-saving assistance and the government struggled to come to terms with the sheer scale of the disaster.

"I just finished my shopping and went to the cashier, suddenly everything got dark and the walls started falling around us, it was awful", said Mia, who like many Indonesians only goes by one name.

Search and rescue workers were beginning to reach the districts of Donggala and Sigi, which were largely isolated due to landslides, damaged roads and other infrastructure.

"But we could not do (anything) to help them", he said.

The grim task of collecting the victims of these twin disasters has now begun, with brightly colored body bags lining a mass grave in the town.

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Almost 60,000 people were displaced, many terrified by powerful aftershocks, and they needed tents, water and sanitary facilities, while the power utility was working to restore electricity, he said.

"When the wave came, I lost her", he said.

Rescuers continue to search for survivors.

A powerful quake hit the region of Sulawesi on Friday, triggering a huge tsunami and wreaking havoc across communities.

The quakes come weeks after a trio of earthquakes hit several islands in the South Pacific and Indonesia, including Lombok, which is still recovering from the effects of an August 5 natural disaster that killed more than 430 people.

"We were informed that all of the detainees have escaped because the building was destroyed by the quake and tsunami", Orcine said.

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In one devastated area in Palu, residents said dozens of people could still be buried in their homes. Many people were trapped and buried under collapsed houses.



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