Enormous 7.7-magnitude quake strikes off coast sparking TSUNAMI warning

Indonesia rocked by magnitude 7.5 quake

INDONESIA'S geophysics agency says a powerful Sulawesi natural disaster caused a tsunami, apparently after the agency lifted a tsunami warning.

The agency first set the scale at 7.7-magnitude but then revised it to 7.4.

Earlier, a 7.7-magnitude quake struck off the coast of Sulawesi island.

The authorities had warned people to take cover after issuing natural disaster alerts.

An unverified dramatic video footage of the tsunami hitting Palu showed the high waves sweeping away several buildings and then the large tilted mosque in the town, about 80 km from the quake's epicentre.

An official with the local disaster agency, Akris, said "many houses have collapsed". "We all ran out of buildings", said Yanti, a 40-year-old housewife in Donggala who goes by a single name.

The tsunami warning for Central Sulawesi and West Sulawesi provinces were lifted an hour later, although officials now still fear further damage amid potential aftershocks.

Some people climbed six metre (18 feet) trees to escape the tsunami and survived, Nugroho said.

Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said communications with the region are disrupted.

Families have been reported missing in Palu after the tsunami washed through, but details remain scarce.

The area was hit by a lighter quake earlier in the day, which killed one person and injured at least 10 in Donggala, authorities said.

Pictures supplied by the agency showed a badly damaged shopping mall in Palu where at least one floor had collapsed onto the storey below, while other photographs showed major damage to buildings and large cracks across pavements.

Indonesian officials issued a tsunami warning Friday after a powerful quake rocked the island of Sulawesi. Oil company Pertamina said its fuel depot in Donggala had been damaged in the incident though there was no oil spill.

Photos confirmed by authorities showed bodies being lined up along the street on Saturday, some in bags and some with their faces covered with clothes.

"All the things in my house were swaying and the quake left a small crack on my wall", he said.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire and is regularly hit by earthquakes.

At least 557 people died and nearly 400,000 were displaced by four earthquakes with intensities varying between magnitude-6.3 and 6.9 which struck Lombok island between July 29 and August 19.

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