'At least 30 people killed' after natural disaster and tsunami hits Indonesia

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At least 30 people were killed when a strong natural disaster and tsunami hit the city of Palu on Indonesia's Sulawesi island on Friday, a hospital official told Metro TV in a report broadcast on Saturday.

Indonesia's disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho says four hospitals in the quake and tsunami stricken city of Palu in Sulawesi have reported 48 deaths.

Dawn revealed a devastated coastline in central Sulawesi where the 3-meter high (10 foot) tsunami triggered by a magnitude 7.5 natural disaster Friday smashed into two cities and several settlements.

Footage posted online showed waves of water bring down several buildings and inundate a large mosque in Palu.

Officials are yet to release an official death toll, but the head of the country's search and rescue agency Muhammad Syaugi...

The main airport in Palu - a city of 350,000 - was shut after the tsunami struck and was expected to stay closed for at least 24 hours.

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Medical team members help patients outside a hospital after an quake and a tsunami hit Palu, on Sulawesi island.

Authorities were having difficulties coordinating rescue efforts as the 7.5 magnitude quake caused a power outage that cut communications around Palu and the nearby fishing town of Donggala, the closest to the epicentre of the quake 27 km (17 miles) away.

In Palu, the capital of Central Sulawesi province, the city of more than 380,000 people was strewn with debris from collapsed buildings.

On Friday night, Indonesia's president said he had instructed the security minister to coordinate the government's response to the quake and tsunami.

"We are receiving reports of widespread damage to buildings because of the natural disaster".

The chief of the meteorology and geophysics agency, Dwikorita Karnawati, said the tsunami waves were up to three metres high.

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"I just ran when I saw the waves hitting homes on the coastline", said Palu resident Rusidanto, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

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

An official with the local disaster agency, Akris, said "many houses have collapsed".

Earlier this year, a series of powerful quakes hit Lombok, killing more than 550 people on the holiday island and neighbouring Sumbawa.

Indonesia is prone to earthquakes because of its location on the "Ring of Fire", an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.

The disaster was the world's 3rd biggest quake since 1900, and lifted the ocean floor in some places by 15 meters.

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