As many as 30 people were killed and thousands displaced after a powerful earthquake and tsunami struck the bay city of Palu in Indonesia’s Sulawesi island on Friday, hospital authorities told media.

Indonesian city was hit by tsunami on Friday after a strong earthquake measuring 7.7 on the Richter scale rocked the Sulawesi island.

Thirty bodies are lying at one Indonesian hospital after a quake and tsunami struck Sulawesi island, smashing into a city of 350,000 people, a hospital official told a TV station.

“There are 30 dead at our hospital. And cases where we need to operate or need specialists to handle 12, head trauma nine,” Komang Adi Sujendra told Metro TV.

A spokesman for Indonesia’s geophysics agency had earlier said that a powerful Sulawesi earthquake caused a tsunami, apparently after the agency lifted a tsunami warning.

But dramatic video footage filmed from the top floor of a parking ramp spiral in Palu, a city of 350,000 nearly 80 kilometres from the quake’s epicentre, showed a churning wall of whitewater mow down several buildings and inundate a large mosque.

The tsunami reached a maximum height of 1.5 metres, the disaster agency later said.

People living hundreds of kilometres from the epicentre reported feeling the massive shake, hours after a smaller jolt killed at least one person in the same part of the Southeast Asian archipelago.

The quake hit just off central Sulawesi at a shallow depth of some 10 kilometres just before 6:00 pm local time (1100 GMT), the US Geological Survey said.

Search and rescue teams have been dispatched to hard-hit areas.

The initial tremor struck as evening prayers were about to begin in the world’s biggest Muslim majority country on the holiest day of the week when mosques would be especially busy. It was followed by a series of powerful aftershocks, including one measuring 5.7 magnitude.

Indonesia is one of the most disaster-prone nations on earth.
It lies on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, where tectonic plates collide and many of the world’s volcanic eruptions take place.

Four earthquakes between 29 July and 19 August have killed at least 557 people died and left 400,000 displaced on the Lombok island. The quakes varied between magnitude 6.3 and 6.9.

Indonesia’s deadliest ever tremor struck Sumatra island in 2004 and triggered a tsunami that killed nearly 280,000 people in around a dozen countries along the Indian Ocean, with the biggest number of casualties registered in Indonesia.

(With agency inputs)