Indonesia tsunami sensors missed huge waves

The Ramayana department store in Palu Central Sulawesi is severely damaged after a 7.7-magnitude earthquake struck on Friday afternoon

At Least 30 Dead in Indonesian Quake, Tsunami

A tsunami swept away buildings and killed large number of people on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, dumping victims caught in its relentless path across a devastated landscape that rescuers were struggling to reach Saturday, hindered by damaged roads and broken communications.

In December 2004, a massive magnitude 9.1 natural disaster off Sumatra in western Indonesia triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries.

Earlier Friday, a 6.1 magnitude quake killed one person, injured several others and damaged dozens of homes, according to the AP.

Nugroho said the status was unknown for "tens to hundreds of people", including dancers and performers at a beach festival in Palu.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency put the official death toll at 384 based on hospital reports, nearly all them in the hard-hit city of Palu.

"Bodies of victims were found in several places, because they were hit by the rubble of collapsing buildings or swept by tsunami. but we are still collecting data", Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman said on Saturday.

Indonesia is a vast archipelago of more than 17,000 islands that's home to 260 million people.

The horrific scene began Friday when the first in a series of tremors was felt at 3 p.m. (3 a.m. ET) 35 miles (56 km) north of Palu, according to the United States Geological Survey.

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That Boxing Day quake triggered a tsunami that killed 220,000 throughout the region, including 168,000 in Indonesia.

Residents stand in front of a damaged shopping mall after an quake hit Palu.

The quake and tsunami caused a major power outage that cut communications around Palu and on Saturday authorities were still having difficulties coordinating rescue efforts, which was also hampered overnight by darkness.

The Singapore embassy in Jakarta had also worked with Indonesian authorities to evacuate a Singaporean who was in Palu, the province's capital, said a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).

There was no warning of the impending tsunami, giving little time for evacuation, despite the hours-long gaps between the waves striking different continents.

The tsunami smashed into buildings and a large mosque that had already been damaged in the quake. "People ran out in panic". "There is a ship washed ashore", said Dwikorita Karnawati, head of Indonesia's meteorology and geophysics agency. An earlier magnitude 6.1 quake in central Sulawsi killed several people, injured 10 and damaged dozens of houses.

Indonesia is prone to earthquakes because it lies on the Ring of Fire - the line of frequent quakes and volcanic eruptions that circles virtually the entire Pacific rim.

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