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Indonesia Death Toll Reaches 1,400 in the Aftermath of Deadly Earthquake and Tsunami

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A 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck along the coastal district of an Indonesia city on Friday, causing widespread devastation and the death of at least 1,400 people so far. The violent earthquake gave way to a towering tsunami that pummeled the coast the Indonesia island of Sulawesi, sweeping away buildings and displacing tens of thousands of people.

Most of the deaths are concentrated in the city of Palu, but there are many areas where it is too early to ascertain the extent of the damage. The central government of Sulawesi has declared a 14-day state of emergency, and rescue efforts are still underway for those trapped under debris and deep floodwaters. The U.N. Office for Disaster Risk Reduction says up to 1.6 million people may be affected by the earthquake and tsunami. According to the U.N Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, around 66,000 houses were destroyed, due to violent mudslides causing the ground soil to liquefy.

Early this morning, a volcano located on the island of Sulawesi erupted, spewing ash and soot 20,000 feet into the sky. The Associated Press reports that the government on the island believes the eruption of Mount Soputan could be connected with the earthquake and tsunami, though the matter is not conclusive as of yet. 

So far, emergency relief aid services are working to assist those who have been displaced from the disaster with shelter, hot meals, and other essentials. Despite this, desperation has begun to set in, as many are left without food and water. Widespread looting has been reported, as victims scramble to gather basic goods to support their families. The country’s central airport was hit hard during the tsunami, making it unusable for aid services, forcing them to travel by truck which has severely slowed down relief efforts.

Other countries have begun to announce aid packages for the island. Australia, one of Indonesia’s closest neighbors, has said it had provided $500,000 in support through the Indonesian Red Cross. The U.S. announced it has released $100,000 in disaster assistance according to a State Department spokesman. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, took to Twitter to pledge $1 million to aid relief efforts, writing “Our hearts go out to the people of Sulawesi and all of Indonesia after this weekend’s devastating earthquake and tsunami.”

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