Powerful natural disaster rocks central Sulawesi in Indonesia

Powerful natural disaster rocks central Sulawesi in Indonesia

A magnitude 7.5 natural disaster has struck off the coast of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, triggering a 1.8-metre (6-foot) tsunami.

Indonesian disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho says the magnitude 7.5 Sulawesi quake caused a tsunami that hit the provincial capital of Palu and another city, Donggala.

The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology said telecommunication services in Donggala and affected areas have been cut off due to an electricity blackout after the main quake.

The tremor on Friday evening hit north of the coastal city of Palu, the capital of Central Sulawesi province.

"The situation is chaotic, people are running on the streets and buildings collapsed", she said.

Just hours before the 7.5-magnitude quake triggered the tsunami, Sulawesi was rocked by a 6.1-magnitude quake.

Donggala was hit earlier Friday by a magnitude 6.1 natural disaster that killed one person, injured 10 and damaged dozens of houses.

The chief of the meteorology and geophysics agency, Dwikorita Karnawati, said the tsunami waves were up to 3m high.

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An image released by the Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management (BNPB) shows a collapsed shopping mall after a 7.7 magnitude quake that struck Donggala, Central Sulawesi on Friday. "My family in Palu is unreachable", Twitter user @noyvionella said.

Initial reports from the agency say dozens of buildings collapsed in Palu City in the Donggala region of Sulawesi. At least one person was killed and dozens of homes were damaged.

The tsunami warning was lifted within the hour, but residents were warned to stay alert as a number of moderate aftershocks hit the area.

Search and rescue teams have been dispatched to hard-hit areas. National Disaster Management Agency said that the quake created panic among the residents forcing them to rush out of their homes.

In December of 2004, the devastating "Boxing Day Earthquake" and ensuing tsunami killed 230,000 people across more than 10 countries.

The second quake hit as the sun was setting and the extent of the damage would likely not be known until Saturday, officials said.

Indonesia lies on the seismically active Pacific Ring of Fire and is regularly struck by earthquakes.

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