Indonesia tsunami creates ‘hell on earth’ as disturbing images reveal full extent of damage after earthquake


Over 1,000 dead and total devastation continues to blight a country struggling to pull itself out of the muddy the wreckages of mosques and homes

The Baiturrahman mosque lies in ruins, its majestic dome, which once towered over west Palu, now resting in a sea of debris and death.

It is a wretched symbol of the destructive power of the tsunami that battered the island of Sulawesi.

As these apocalyptic images emerged, authorities in Indonesia said 832 people had died when a 20ft tsunami, caused by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake at sea, struck on Friday.

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo tweeted: “Grieve for the people of Central Sulawesi, we all grieve together.”

Indonesia tsunami death toll rises to 1,203 amid fears number killed after earthquake could be even higher

Body bags were piling up in the streets on Sunday as the water receded and the remains of victims were ­recovered.

A mass burial is being planned to avoid the spread of disease.

But with many bodies still floating in the sea, and more seen in the mud on shore, it was feared the final death toll will be counted in thousands.

Tom Howells of Save The Children, said: “While we still don’t know the full scale of the crisis yet, we know it is immense.

“Large buildings have collapsed, coastal dwellings have ­effectively been washed away.

“Hundreds have been killed and, sadly, we expect this to rise considerably.”

The wall of water that hit Palu, and its population of 350,000, swept away homes, bridges, businesses and roads, leaving much of the city in ruins.

In chilling footage online, people are heard screaming as the wave comes in, destroying everything in its path.

Tens of thousands of Sulawesi residents are now homeless, their houses reduced to rubble by the wave or made uninhabitable by the sludge left behind.

As aid began to arrive yesterday, survivors queued for hours for food, water and medicine.

Scores of residents shouted “we’re hungry, we need food” as soldiers distributed rations from a truck in one neighbourhood.

Others waited in line for fuel, hoping to flee as possible. There were also reports of looting.

One man in a Santa hat was pictured on the back of a moped with a plundered TV.

Rescue workers face a race against time to save injured people trapped in rubble. But efforts are being hampered by damage to the transport network.

The wave destroyed a steel bridge, leaving a large part of the city ­inaccessible, and the main road linking Palu with the rest of the island has been blocked by a landslide.

Villages on either side of the Palu bay may have to wait days before they get help.

Mr Howells said: “We hold grave fears for many of the towns in this area.”

On Sunday, Oxfam estimated at least 1.5 million people had been affected.

Oxfam’s Ancilla Bere said: “It is likely that thousands of people across a large area will need urgent help.

“Access and communication remains a big concern with a key road cut off by a landslide and other infrastructure badly damaged.”