At least 5 missing as tsunami hits Indonesia after strong quakes

September 29, 2018, 11:46 am

JAKARTA -- A tsunami struck off coastal areas near Talisa beach of Dongala district of Indonesia's Central Sulawesi province, leaving at least five people missing and scores of houses destroyed, spokesman of the national disaster management agency, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, said Friday.

"One family in one house, five people, were missing after (a) tsunami swept the house. The tsunami also damaged scores of houses," Sutopo told Xinhua over phone.

The tsunami struck at the height of 0.5 meters up to 3 meters, head of the meteorology and geophysics agency, Dwikorita Karnawati, said in a press conference.

The sea waters have now receded, the official said.

The tsunami was triggered after a series of strong quakes, including a 7.4-magnitude that jolted the central parts of the country on Friday afternoon.

One person was confirmed dead and 10 others injured after the quakes.

The toll may rise as assessment of the destruction is underway, the official said.

A 7.4-magnitude quake struck at 6:02 p.m. local time (1002 GMT) with an epicenter of 10 km. underground at 27 km. northeast of Dongala.

Around 12 minutes after the quake, a 6.1-magnitude aftershock followed.

The 7.4-magnitude quake rattled about three hours after a revised 6.0-magnitude quake jolted the area, killing one person and injuring 10 others with scores of houses damaged.

The jolts were felt strongly in Sirenja subdistrict of Dongala, triggering panic and forcing folks to rush outside their houses, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said earlier.

The quakes led to the closure of the main airport in the province and cut off communication, officials said.

Indonesian transport ministry shut down the SIS Al-Jufrie airport at 7:26 p.m. local time Friday (1126 GMT) and will reopen it at 7:20 p.m. local time Saturday (1120 GMT Saturday), spokesman Sindu Rahayu said.

Indonesia is prone to quakes as it lies on a vulnerable quake-affected area popularly known as the "Pacific Ring of Fire". (Xinhua)