Quake strikes off Indonesia, brings down buildings

JAKARTA: A major 7.5 quake struck off the Indonesian island of Sulawesi on Friday, briefly prompting a tsunami alert after a milder tremor brought down houses, and initial reports from the area said “many buildings” had collapsed.

The tsunami warning was lifted within the hour, but officials asked people to remain on the alert amid a series of moderate aftershocks.

“We advise people to remain in safe areas, stay away from damaged buildings,” Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, said in a televised interview.

The agency was having difficulties reaching some authorities in the fishing town of Donggala and Palu city, the capital of central Sulawesi province, closest to the epicenter of the quake 80 km (50 miles) away at a shallow 10 km underground.

Palu airport was closed.

Some people took to Twitter saying they could not contact loved ones.

“My family in Palu is unreachable,” Twitter user @noyvionella said. Reuters