Guardian: Indonesia tsunami: death toll could reach thousands, officials say

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Aftershocks rattle island of Sulawesi as vice-president warns nation to expect significant rise in fatalities

The confirmed death toll from the earthquake and tsunami that struck the Indonesian island of Sulawesi has risen to 832, and the vice-president, Jusuf Kalla, has warned it could reach into the thousands.

More than 150 aftershocks followed the 7.4-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit Sulawesi on Friday, causing thousands of homes, hotels, shopping malls and several mosques to collapse.

Of the fatalities, 821 were in the city of Palu, with 11 casualties so far recorded in Donggala, the worst-hit area, which is home to 300,000 people. Hundreds of bodies have been found on beaches and authorities fear many may have been washed out to sea.

Speaking at a press conference, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the spokesman for the BNBP disaster agency, said the area affected was much bigger than originally thought.

“The deaths are believed to be still increasing since many bodies were still under the wreckage while many have not able to be reached,” said Sutopo, emphasising that access to Donggala, as well as the towns of Sigi and Boutong, was very limited so the final death toll was impossible to predict.

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