'Heard nothing from Donggala': The Indonesian regency of 300,000 close to quake epicentre

'Heard nothing from Donggala': The Indonesian regency of 300,000 close to quake epicentre

Palu quake
This aerial picture shows the remains of a 10-storey hotel in Palu in Indonesia's Central Sulawesi on Sep 30, 2018 after it collapsed following a strong earthquake in the area. (Photo: Azwar/AFP)

JAKARTA: As tragic details emerge from the quake-tsunami hit city of Palu on Sulawesi island in Indonesia, information from another hard-hit area remained elusive.

The regency of Donggala, north of Palu, with a population of 300,000 was the epicentre of the shallow 7.5 magnitude tremor that shook the region. 

With the death toll of more than 400 so far from Palu alone and reports only slowly filtering in from Donggala, authorities are bracing themselves for worse to come.

"Worryingly, the National Disaster Management Agency has said they've received no information from the district of Donggala, which is closer to the epicentre of the earthquake," said Helen Szoke of Oxfam.

"We have heard nothing from Donggala and this is extremely worrying. There are more than 300,000 people living there," the Red Cross said in a statement.

READ: Indonesia tsunami sensors missed huge waves, says official

Donggala map
Map showing location of the city of Palu and the regency of Donggala in Sulawesi island.

"This is already a tragedy, but it could get much worse."

Donggala has been extensively damaged, with houses swept into the sea and bodies trapped in debris, according to a Metro TV reporter on the scene.

Indonesia's vice president Jusuf Kalla said the toll could rise to thousands as President Joko Widodo said he will be visiting the affected areas including Palu and Donggala.

The Head of the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB), Willem Rampangilei, told reporters in Sulawesi late on Saturday rescuers were struggling in their hunt for more victims as the death toll in Palu had reached 420.

"We are having difficulty deploying heavy equipment to find victims under the rubble of buildings because many of the roads leading to Palu city are damaged," he was quoted by the Kompas newspaper as saying.

About 10,000 displaced people were scattered at 50 different places in Palu, he said.

Source: CNA/Agencies/mn