Updated at 3:42 p.m. ET on 2018-09-28
A powerful earthquake collapsed buildings, cut off power and spawned a tsunami that swept away houses, killing several people in Indonesia's Sulawesi province Friday, authorities said.
The quake struck at 5:02 p.m. local time about 27 kilometers (16 miles) northeast of Donggala regency in Central Sulawesi, according to local seismologists. The Colorado-based U.S. Geological Survey said it registered a 7.5 magnitude, a temblor capable of producing widespread, heavy damage.
"Initial reports showed that several people were killed after being hit by debris from buildings," disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told reporters.
"The tsunami also hit houses and buildings on the shore, but we are still collecting information on casualties and damage," he said.
He said the tsunami destroyed homes in Palu, the capital of Central Sulawesi province, and the town of Donggala.
Damage to mobile phone networks and a power outage hampered rescue operations, he said. "We received reports that some people were missing after their homes were swept by a tsunami."
Another temblor with a lower magnitude damaged homes and killed one person about three hours earlier, officials said.
Dwikorita Karnawati, who heads Indonesia's meteorology and geophysics agency, BMKG, told Reuters that the tsunami measured up to two meters.
"The situation is chaotic. People are running on the streets and buildings have collapsed," she said. "There is a ship washed ashore."
The latest quakes came almost two months after a series of powerful temblors devastated the Indonesian island of Lombok, killing at least 555 people.
About 77,000 houses were damaged, forcing nearly 400,000 residents to live in temporary shelters, officials said.
Hundreds of people displaced by the Lombok earthquake staged a protest on Wednesday, complaining that they had not received aid money to build their homes, as promised by the government.
Indonesia straddles the so-called Ring of Fire, an area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean known for seismic upheavals and volcanic eruptions.
On Dec. 26, 2004, about 130,000 people died in Indonesia’s westernmost province of Aceh when a magnitude 9.1 earthquake occurred off the west coast of Sumatra, spawning a series of devastating tsunamis. That quake killed at least 230,000 people in a dozen countries.