Tsunami-hit Indonesia shopping mall being looted

An earthquake and a tsunami hit Palu on Sulawesi island

Dramatic video footage captured from the top floor of a parking ramp in Palu, almost 80 kilometres (50 miles) from the quake's epicentre, showed waves bring down several buildings and inundate a large mosque.

- 2006: A 6.8 magnitude hit south of Java, Indonesia's most populated island, triggering a tsunami that smashed into the southern coast, killing almost 700 people.

We haven't seen any aid heading in and there is still no communication link to the town of Donggala.

"This is extremely worrying", it said in a statement.

Nugroho said the quake intensity was much higher in the fishing town of Donggala, which was closer to the epicentre, and they expect the damage there to be much worse, but have not been able to establish communications. National search and rescue agency chief Muhammad Syaugi told Reuters rescuers were flying to Donggala by helicopter.

Indonesian men walk past the wreckage of a auto following earthquakes and a tsunami in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia.

According to CNN, there's concern that some of the more rural areas affected by the natural disaster and tsunami may not receive help in time, as Palu airport has been shut down, and the closest usable airport is at least a 10 hour drive from the city.

The strongest quake struck at 6.02pm local time (8.02pm AEST) on Friday and tsunami.

A tsunami warning was issued but lifted within the hour.

"We hope there will be worldwide satellites crossing over Indonesia that can capture images and provide them to us so we can use the images to prepare humanitarian aid", Nugroho said.

There were also concerns over the whereabouts of hundreds of people preparing for a beach festival that had been due to start Friday evening, the disaster agency said.

Injured people are treated outside at Army hospital following earthquakes and a tsunami in Palu, Central Sulawesi. The landslide was caused by liquification of the soil, according BNPB's Nugroho.

The quake that hit on Friday incapacitated Palu airport, the air traffic tower was severely damaged, and cracks disabled 250 metres of the runway.

Ismail said he was surprised that a tsunami was generated off the coast of central Sulawesi, which sits on a strike-slip fault, producing earthquakes that typically move in a horizontal motion and do not usually displace large amounts of water.

Video footage on social media showed a man on the upper floor of a building shouting warnings of the approaching tsunami to people on the street below moments before the wave crashed ashore.

The Head of the National Disaster Management Agency, Willem Rampangilei, told reporters in Sulawesi late on Saturday rescuers were struggling in their hunt for more victims.

Footage captured from the top floor of a parking ramp in Palu, almost 80km from the epicenter, showed waves bring down several buildings and inundating a large mosque. He said many victims have not been accounted for.

About 540 people were badly injured, it added.

Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said Friday night that he had instructed the security minister to coordinate the government's response to the disaster.

"It is horrifying", he told ABC TV's Insiders programme on Sunday.

The city's airport is slated to reopen on Saturday afternoon after being closed as its runway and air traffic control tower was damaged in the quake, authorities said.

"Canada is deeply saddened by the loss of life and awful destruction wrought by the powerful quake and tsunami that hit Indonesia yesterday", Global Affairs Canada said in a statement.

- 2010: A 7.5 magnitude quake hit one of the Mentawai islands, off Sumatra, triggering up tsunami of up to 10 meters that destroyed dozens of villages and killed around 300 people.

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