Electricity supply and mobile network heavily affected
Nearly 400 people have been killed and over five hundred have injured by the earthquake and tsunami that hit Indonesian city of Palu, Central Sulawesi on Friday, the government agency claimed on Saturday.
According to country’s National Disaster and Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purvo who briefed the media persons on Saturday, at least 384 people are dead, 29 missing and 540 injured.
Jakarta Post quoted Sutopo saying, “Updated numbers of the victims show that 384 people died, 29 are missing and 540 are injured. Donggala is still unreachable because communications are still cut off. A team has been dispatched to the regency.”
He indicated that the number of victims was likely to increase because the rescue teams have yet to reach all affected areas.
“Friday’s earthquake that hit Central Sulawesi was bigger than Lombok’s. It was shallow, only at a depth of 10 kilometers. Moreover, it was followed by a tsunami that damaged areas close to the shore. We believe that the numbers of casualties will increase,” he said.
A string of earthquakes hit the Central Sulawesi regency of Donggala on Friday afternoon, one of which reached 7.4-magnitude on Friday at 6:02 p.m. local time. The earthquake was followed by waves up-to 3 meters high, on parts of Donggala’s coast and Talise Beach in Palu.
Sutopo said the earthquake had knocked out seven power stations in Palu and Donggala. Two of them were managed to power up Saturday.
The electricity blackout affected mobile phone network across the area making it difficult for people and agencies to gather information from the affected areas.
Sutopo told the media, “Communication networks in Donggala and Palu as well as the areas around it is not working because the electricity is cut off. There are 276 base [network] stations that cannot be used.”
The earthquake also destroyed the biggest shopping mall in Palu along with the iconic Ponulele bridge that connected West and East Donggala.
The tsunami that followed inundated buildings near the shore and the Pesona Palu Nomoni Festival arena, which was held on Friday evening. “Hundreds of people attended the event, and we still don’t have any news about their fate,” Sutopo said.