Indonesia Death Toll Jumps To 832 With Dozens Reportedly Trapped In Rubble
The toll from an earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia has soared to 832 confirmed dead, with authorities fearing numbers will climb as rescuers struggle to get aid to outlying communities cut off from communications and help.
Dozens of people are reported to be trapped in the rubble of several hotels and a mall in the city of Palu, on Sulawesi island, which was hit by waves as high as six metres following the 7.5 magnitude earthquake on Friday.
A woman was pulled alive from the debris of the city's Roa Roa Hotel, where up to 60 people were believed trapped. Hundreds of people gathered at the wrecked eight-storey Tatura Mall searching for loved ones.
"Grieve for the people of Central Sulawesi, we all grieve together," President Joko Widodo tweeted late on Sunday.
Most of the confirmed deaths were in Palu itself, and authorities are bracing for the toll to climb as connections with outlying areas are restored.
Of particular concern is Donggala, a region of 300,000 people north of Palu and close to the epicentre of the quake, and two other districts, which have been cut off from communications since Friday.
Along with Palu, these districts have a combined population of about 1.4 million.
Indonesia Vice President Jusuf Kalla said the death toll could rise into the thousands.
READ MORE: Indonesia Tsunami: Australia Offers Support
Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne expressed their condolences to the people of Indonesia in a joint statement late on Sunday. Australia stands ready to support the Indonesian government's response efforts if needed, they said.
"We have been in direct contact with President Joko Widodo and Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi concerning the situation, passing on the concern and best wishes of the Australian people as well as an offer of support should it be required," the statement said.
No Australians are known to have been affected by the disaster. Five foreigners -- three French, one South Korean and one Malaysian -- were among the missing, National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.
Earlier, Widodo visited a housing complex that was flattened in the quake and called for patience.
"I know there are many problems that need to be solved in a short time, including communications," he said.
Television pictures showed scores of residents in one neighbourhood shouting for food as soldiers distributed rations from a truck.
Other footage showed people making off with clothes and other items from a wrecked mall.
Asked about reports of looting, Internal Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo said he had ordered authorities to help people get food and drink, and that businesses would be compensated.
State logistics agency chief Budi Waseso said the agency was preparing to send hundreds of tonnes of government rice stocks to affected areas.
Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said the government had allocated 560 billion rupiah ($A52 million) for disaster recovery, media reported.