By Mahmut Atanur
JAKARTA (AA) – Indonesia declared a state of emergency Saturday for Sulawesi Island in the wake of a powerful earthquake and resulting tsunami.
At least 384 people died after Friday's 7.7-magnitude earthquake and tsunami, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for Indonesia’s disaster management agency (BNPB).
According to local news outlets, the state of emergency was declared to mobilize all state units for aid and recovery efforts.
The tsunami, towering up to three meters high, hit Palu, capital of the Central Sulawesi province, and the northeast of the nearby Donggala Regency.
After its 500-meter airstrip was damaged, Palu’s airport was closed to flights, excepting certain cargo planes.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo ordered troops to the region to support search and rescue efforts.
A hospital ship with medical equipment and nearly 100 specialist doctors is also being sent, said Indonesian officials.
Local media said some 540 people were injured.
Three more earthquakes with magnitudes 6.3, 6.9, and 7 hit the eastern island of Lombok in the last two months, killing a total of 563 people.
Indonesia lies within the Pacific Ocean’s "Ring of Fire" where tectonic plates collide and cause frequent seismic and volcanic activity.
On Dec. 26, 2004, a magnitude 9.1 earthquake struck the eastern coast of Sumatra, triggering a tsunami that killed around 230,000 people as it tore along the coasts of Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand.