(CMR) A powerful 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck the Indonesian island of Sulawesi Friday evening just hours after a powerful, deadly foreshock, apparently triggered a tsunami that hit the coast minutes later.
The main tremor struck at 6:02 p.m. local time Friday evening (6:02 a.m. EDT) about 35 miles northeast of Donggala, Indonesia – a town of about 300,000 – according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Shortly after, a tsunami warning was issued by Indonesia's geophysics agency, then lifted.
It's believed the tsunami, confirmed by local agencies to be up to 10 feet tall, struck Donggala and Palu, a coastal town of about 330,000, after the alert was canceled. Hary Tirto Djatmiko, a spokesman for the agency, confirmed to the Associated Press that a tsunami occurred and more information would be released once it was gathered.
“Based on historical data and tsunami modeling, this earthquake is not capable of generating a tsunami affecting the Indian Ocean region,” said the Meteorological, Climatological and Geophysical Agency of Indonesia.
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for Indonesia's disaster management agency, told a local TV station that houses were carried away by the tsunami and families were missing, but darkness hindered the search Friday night.
“The situation is chaotic, people are running on the streets and buildings collapsed. There is a ship washed ashore,” Dwikorita Karnawati, head of Indonesia's meteorology and geophysics agency, told BBC.com.