As the death toll continues to climb in the aftermath of Indonesia’s 7.5 earthquake, a devastating first-hand video captures the moment the subsequent tsunami crashes into the coastal area of Donggala, leveling buildings and any other structures in its path.
Filmed from what appears to be a cell phone, the video shows the seconds it takes for a wall of waves to hit Palu Beach, according to Indonesia’s head of the National Agency for Disaster Management Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.
First, the ocean coastline recedes hundreds of feet before white waves break in the distance, unfurling towards dozens of structures and vehicles along the beachline. Waves reaching up to 6 meters (20 feet) high power into buildings, bringing with it debris and other rubble. The shot then goes black.
“Settlements around the coast were destroyed by the tsunami,” wrote Nugroho in a tweet, who continued that those who evacuated to the high tsunami rescue building "survived the brunt" of the tsunami. However, many others were killed because of "the limited early warning, tsunami anticipation knowledge and behavior, shelter and spatial planning."
“It’s so close to my city,” wrote another Twitter user in a September 28 post. “After earthquakes, then we [are] attack[ed] by [a] tsunami again. Please pray for us.”
A second video shows families moving through the rubble on foot as waves crash behind them, a building collapsing nearby from the weight of the ocean.
“The ground surface moves and sinks so that all buildings are destroyed. The geological process is very terrible. It is estimated that victims are trapped in this area,” wrote Nugroho on Twitter.
Most of the damage has been reported in the city of Palu. With a population of around 300,000, rescue workers in the area have been struggling to meet demands for food and supplies, reports The Jakarta Post. Hungry and thirsty survivors have been ransacking aid trucks carrying food supplies and other items.
Indonesia’s location in the ring of fire makes it one of the most earthquake and tsunami-prone countries in the world.
Already, as many as 1,200 deaths have been reported – a repercussion some argue could have been preventable had a high-tech early detection system not been stalled in its testing phase for several years as the government awaited final funding to complete the 1 billion rupiahs ($69,000 USD) project.