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The Latest: Trump says US helping after devastating tsunami

October 1, 2018
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Indonesian red cross team carry the body of a tsunami victim following a massive earthquake and tsunami at Talise beach in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018. Bright-colored body bags were placed side-by-side in a freshly dug mass grave Monday, as a hard-hit Indonesian city began burying its dead from the devastating earthquake and tsunami. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

PALU, Indonesia (AP) — The Latest on a powerful earthquake and tsunami that hit part of central Indonesia (all times local):

12:04 a.m.

President Donald Trump is sending his “warmest condolences” to the country of Indonesia following a devastating earthquake and tsunami that killed hundreds.

Trump tells reporters during a Rose Garden press conference that he has dispatched first responders, the military and others to help in the aftermath of the disaster, which he’s calling “a really bad, bad situation.”

And he says he’ll be calling the country’s leader — presumably President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo — whom he praised as “a great leader indeed.”

Trump is also stressing the damaging nature of tsunamis, citing a friend of his who studies natural disasters.

He says: “You look at the tornadoes, the hurricanes, you look at all of the different natural disasters ... He says that tsunami is the worst of all and they got hit very hard.”

800+ dead in Indonesia quake; toll may rise

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10 p.m.

Rescuers in Indonesia have pulled a 38-year-old man out alive from beneath a collapsed building three days after an earthquake and tsunami devastated the city of Palu in central Sulewesi province.

Indonesian TV stations showed video from the National Search and Rescue Agency of its workers freeing Sapri Nusin from the rubble of a destroyed finance building. He was conscious and talking to his rescuers as they worked by flashlight.

After freeing him they put him on a stretcher and carried him away. There was no immediate word on his condition.

More than 840 people have been confirmed dead in the disaster. That number is expected to rise as search teams continue their work and reach more remote areas.

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5:30 p.m.

Some 100 Indonesian troops have left the city of Makassar in southern Sulawesi island to help with rescue efforts in the country’s quake- and tsunami-hit areas.

The troops boarded a naval ship Monday morning and headed to the hard-hit cities of Palu and Donggala. They’ll join some 1,300 personnel already at site, including military and police.

They are bringing food, water and other supplies to the affected area.

Makassar is over 700 kilometers (435 miles) from Palu and Donggala.

Indonesia’s disaster agency says the death toll from the massive earthquake and tsunami has increased slightly to 844, and nearly 50,000 people have been displaced by the disaster.

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4:20 p.m.

Rescue teams are trying to dig out many victims believed buried in mud in an Indonesian city devastated by Friday’s earthquake and tsunami, which killed more than 800 people.

Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said conditions in the Petobo neighborhood of Palu city are particularly bad because the quake caused a phenomenon called liquefaction, which occurs when loose water-filled soil near the surface loses its strength and collapses.

Nugroho said authorities estimate that “there are still hundreds of victims buried in mud” in the area.

Villagers who pulled out loved ones — alive and dead — over the weekend expressed frustration that rescue teams had only reached Petobo on Monday.

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2 p.m.

Indonesia’s disaster agency says the death toll from the massive earthquake and tsunami that hit the island of Sulawesi has increased slightly to 844, and nearly 50,000 people have been displaced by the disaster.

Most of the dead were from the city of Palu, but much is still unknown about other coastal towns that have yet to be properly assessed due to impassable roads, downed power lines and phone outages. Spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the death toll increased Monday by 12 from a day earlier.

The 7.5 magnitude quake hit at dusk Friday, creating a tsunami that swept waves ashore reaching as high as 6 meters (20 feet) in some places. Many buildings collapsed and rescuers were still working to free desperate survivors. A mass burial was being held.

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1:50 p.m.

Thousands of desperate people, mostly women and children, have swarmed the airport in the Indonesian city of Palu in a failed bid to push their way onto an Indonesian Air Force plane days after a powerful earthquake and tsunami devastated the city.

Video footage aired by Indonesia’s TVOne showed women and children, some pregnant and others carrying babies in their arms, weeping and screaming as they pleaded with military personnel to let them board a Hercules aircraft on the tarmac Monday morning.

One woman told the network, “We have not eaten for three days. We just want to be safe.”

The airport has been closed to commercial traffic since the disaster struck Friday night.

TVOne reported that the minister of state-owned companies, Rini Sumarno, said the government will soon deploy ships to help survivors leave the provincial capital.

Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said the government was doing all it could to get in as much food and fuel as into Palu as it could.

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12:20 p.m.

A mass burial of people who died in last Friday’s earthquake and tsunami in central Indonesia has begun.

Around midday Monday, teams of workers, their mouths covered by masks, carried 18 body bags and laid them in a trench. Mechanical earth-movers waited to push soil on top of the bodies.

More burials are expected to follow. The grave in Palu, a hard-hit city in Central Sulawesi province, was prepared for more than 300 bodies initially.

The toll of 832 is expected to rise as areas inaccessible since the disaster are reached. The quake and tsunami collapsed buildings and caused other severe damage in Palu and nearby communities.

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9:45 a.m.

Indonesia’s president has authorized for the country to accept international help for the earthquake and tsunami disaster on the central island of Sulawesi.

Thomas Lembong, chair of Indonesia’s Investment Coordinating Board, tweeted Monday morning that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo made the authorization.

It wasn’t immediately clear what type of help was being authorized.

The toll of 800 dead in Friday’s disaster is expected to grow as areas inaccessible since the disaster are reached. The quake and tsunami damaged airports, hospitals and other crucial infrastructure.

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8:15 a.m.

A mass burial was being prepared for more than 300 bodies in an Indonesian city hit hard by a powerful earthquake and tsunami.

The toll of more than 800 dead from Friday’s disaster is mostly from Palu and is expected to grow as areas cut off by damage are reached.

National disaster agency chief Willem Rampangilei said the grave can be enlarged if needed and burials must be done soon for health and religious reasons. A majority of Indonesians are Muslim, and burials customarily take place within one day.

There was a desperate need for heavy equipment to reach possible survivors in collapsed buildings, including an eight-story hotel in Palu where voices were heard in the rubble. A survivor was found Sunday evening in the ruins of the Roa-Roa Hotel.

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