Tsunami hits central Indonesia after strong quakes

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 national disaster management agency Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said on Friday. "One family in one house, five people, were missing after tsunami swept the house. The tsunami also damaged scores of houses," Sutopo told Xinhua over phone. The tsunami struck at the height of between 0.5 meters up to 3 meters, head of the meteorology and geophysics agency Dwikorita Karnawati told 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 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 is underway, said the official.

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 Dongala district.

Twelve minutes after the quake, 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, 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 quake as it lies on a vulnerable quake-affected area popularly known as "the Pacific Ring of Fire".


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