Indonesia: Death Toll Rises To Over 800 Following Devastating Quake & Tsunami

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The death toll from a devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck the Indonesian island of Sulawesi on Friday, has climbed to 832, with officials saying it could reach into the thousands.

The national disaster mitigation agency announced on Sunday that the death toll from the disaster has almost doubled since Saturday.

The actual figures may not be known for some time as rescuers are still struggling to reach outlying communities cut off from communications and help.

RT reports: The natural disasters also affected areas much larger than initially estimated, the latest official updates say. The spokesman of the agency, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, said that 540 injured people were sent to local hospitals.

Earlier, Vice President Jusuf Kalla voiced fears that the death toll may go into the thousands, local media reported.

The rescue operation is complicated as the severely damaged roads impede deployment of heavy equipment to search for victims under the rubble, the head of the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB), Willem Rampangilei, told journalists on Saturday. He also said that “10,000 refugees are scattered in 50 points in Palu city.”

The powerful quake hit the island on Friday, triggering tsunami waves as high as six meters (20 feet), and wreaking havoc across the communities. Many people were feared to be trapped in the rubble of collapsed buildings.

Among the victims was a 21-year-old Indonesian air traffic controller, Anthonius Gunawan Agung, who stayed on duty at Mutiara Sis Al Jufri Airport in Palu as the earthquake shook the site. The hero wanted to make sure one last aircraft escaped the disaster, but did not manage to save himself and died from his injuries after attempting to flee the trembling building.

Niamh Harris
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