Terrifying Video Shows Tsunami Waves Strike Indonesian City Of Palu, Leaving 400 Dead

The devastating tsunami leaves hundreds dead, and as many as that may have been swept out to sea.

Devastation after 2004 Tsunami in Aceh, Indonesia
RNW.org / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The devastating tsunami leaves hundreds dead, and as many as that may have been swept out to sea.

A terrifying video has surfaced on social media that shows a tsunami tearing through Palu City in Indonesia with killer waves measuring up to 10-feet high. The powerful tsunami sent the water crashing through the area Friday right at dusk, destroying everything in its path. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the giant waves were spawned by a magnitude 7.5 earthquake that struck on the highly active “Ring Of Fire” and hit close to central Sulawesi at a depth of a little over six miles. The BBC reports that the catastrophe left 400 dead and that the number is expected to go up.

The video footage captured by survivors of the huge tsunami shows the horrifying moment that water from the huge waves encroaches Palu City. Panicked citizens are seen desperately trying to get away from the water rushing in, and whole buildings were filmed being swept away. One moment of the riveting footage shows a mosque that’s located about 50 miles from the earthquake’s epicenter among one of the structures being knocked down by the churning water. Debris is additionally shown floating down the streets.

Per The Evening Standard, scores of unfortunate people had congregated for a beach festival that was due to start that Friday night when the waves from the tsunami came crashing onto land. The rushing waters swept many of them to their death and left a slew of bodies strewn throughout the shoreline, according to eyewitnesses.

Sutopo Purwo Nughoro, a spokesperson for Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency, spoke about the casualties to the media in Jakarta today.

“When the threat arose yesterday, people were still doing their activities on the beach and did not immediately run and they became victims. The tsunami didn’t come by itself, it dragged cars, logs, houses, it hit everything on land,” he said.

Nughoro added that some of the people that survived did so by climbing trees that stood higher than the deadly waves. According to CBS, Nugroho additionally said that the fate of the “tens to hundreds” of revelers that went to the beach festival is unknown.

Bystanders run from Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004.
Bystanders run from Indian Ocean tsunami waves in 2004. David Rydevik / Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

Palu City also was rocked today by robust aftershocks from the earthquake that caused structures such as homes, shopping centers, and hospitals to collapse. The citizens were cautioned by officials not to go back into their homes and to sleep away from the structures because of the risks associated with aftershocks.

President Joko Widodo stated that “troops were en route to the area to reinforce rescue teams and help retrieve bodies.”

Emergency personnel is currently attempting rescues in Palu, but their efforts are reportedly hindered by power outages. The quake damaged the city’s main hospital, and dozens of people injured by the carnage are shown on the television being treated by overwhelmed personnel outside of the damaged building in corridors and in temporary medical tents.

Additionally, the main thoroughfare to the Indonesian city is cut off by a landslide, and a vital bridge is also damaged and unusable. What’s more, the main airport is closed because of damage to the runway, according to a minister. The minister told reporters that he hoped helicopters could still make landfall in spite of the damage.

The fishing town of Donggala was also hit by an earthquake, but it wasn’t as powerful. That event caused one casualty and injured at least ten people. Palu and Donggala have a combined population of 600,000.

Since the earthquake hit close to the epicenter there was very little warning time. A tsunami alert was issued directly after the earthquake, but it was lifted after nearly an hour after by the meteorological agency in Indonesia. The Southeast Asian nation’s agency was criticized for their response, but local officials claimed that the tsunami struck during the alert.