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Indonesia: Death Toll of More Than 800 Likely to Rise
Indonesia's President Jokowi Widodo has authorized the acceptance of international help related to the earthquake and tsunami that hit the central island of Sulawesi.
Chair of Indonesia's Investment Coordinating Board Thomas Lembong made the announcement in a tweet Monday morning.
There were 844 confirmed deaths by early Monday, with the city of Palu on Sulawesi the hardest hit.
Indonesian officials say they fear the death toll from Friday's earthquake and tsunami could soar into the thousands when rescuers are able to get to remote areas.
The airport is barely functioning, most power plants have been knocked off-line, and roads are shattered and twisted.
Touring Palu Sunday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said one of the immediate needs is to bring in the heavy equipment needed to move large pieces of rubble.
"We didn't expect it to be like this. So we hope and pray for the communities and be patient," he told disaster victims. "We know that there are a lot of things to do urgently, but the condition is not now possible."
He told soldiers deployed to the area to be ready to work nonstop.
Television pictures from Palu show buildings, cars and trees pushed together to form mounds of wreckage.
The 7.5-magnitude quake triggered a huge tsunami with waves as high as 6 meters, which inundated the cities of Palu and Donggala.
Authorities say hundreds of people were on the beach in Palu for a festival when the earthquake and tsunami struck, sweeping many away to their deaths when the giant waves arrived.
Indonesia and its 18,000 islands are located along the Pacific Ocean's "Ring of Fire" and are frequently struck by earthquake, volcano and tsunami activity.
A 9.1-magnitude quake in 2004 off Sumatra and subsequent tsunami killed about 230,000 people in 14 Pacific countries, with about half of those deaths occurring in Indonesia.