5 missing as tsunami hits central Indonesia after strong quakes

Jakarta: A tsunami struck off coastal areas near the Talisa beach off Indonesia’s central province of Sulawesi, leaving at least five people missing and scores of houses destroyed, said officials today.

“One family in one house, five people, were missing after tsunami swept the house. The tsunami also damaged scores of houses,” an official told Xinhua news agency over telephone.

The tsunami struck at the height of between 0.5 meters up and 3 meters, the head of the meteorology and geophysics agency Dwikorita Karnawati, told a press conference. The sea waters have now receded, he said.

The tsunami was triggered after a series of strong quakes, including a 7.4 magnitude one, jolted 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 was on, said the official.

A 7.4 magnitude quake struck with an epicentre of 10 km underground at 27 km northeast Dongala district.

Twelve minutes later, a strong aftershock of 6.1-magnitude 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 sub-district of Dongala district, triggering panic and forcing folks to rush outside their houses.

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

The Indonesian Transport Ministry shut down the SIS Al-Jufrie airport.

Indonesia is prone to quake as it lies on a vulnerable quake-affected area popularly known as “the Pacific Ring of Fire”.