Astonishing moment a building ‘floats’ past after tremors LIQUEFY the ground, swallowing 1,700 homes in Indonesia as mass grave is dug for more than a THOUSAND victims

This is the astonishing moment a building ‘floated’ along a river of mud after the devastating Indonesian earthquake liquefied the ground.

Hundreds are feared trapped in mud and 1,700 homes were ‘swallowed up’ on the island of Sulawesi after tremors turned water-filled soil in to mush in a phenomenon known as liquefaction.

Terrifying footage, filmed from the metal roof of a house, shows large buildings and electricity pylons moving past after being ripped from their foundations.

The clip emerged as the death toll from the disaster climbed to more than 1,200 and officials prepared a mass grave with space for hundreds of victims of Friday’s earthquake and tsunami. Workers were seen hauling body bags into the 330ft-long tomb in Palu.

Meanwhile, reports have emerged of looters raiding collapsed shopping malls and hundreds of convicts escaping the ruins of their prison.

In the district of Sigi, 34 children were found dead under tsunami debris. They were all attending a Christian camp, Indonesian Red Cross spokeswoman Aulia Arriani said.

A 38-year-old man was pulled out alive from beneath a collapsed building three days after the 7.5 earthquake and 500mph tsunami devastated the city of Palu.

Indonesian Earthquake : How a 'Perfect storm' Spawned disaster
The tsunami swept down a bay before crashing into the city of Palu. crushing everything in its path after the 7.5 magnitude earthquake on Friday

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.

Some remote areas feared wiped out by the disaster have yet to be contacted, medicines are running out and rescuers, who have reported hearing screams from under building wreckage, are struggling with a shortage of heavy equipment.

In response, President Joko Widodo opened the door to the dozens of international aid agencies and NGOs who are lined up to provide life-saving assistance.

Britain will send a team of five aid workers to Sulawesi along with £2 million of support to help the thousands left homeless, the Department for International Development (DfID) confirmed.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said: ‘The UK offers its deepest condolences to those affected by the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia which has left hundreds of people dead and thousands more homeless and in need of urgent help.’

Figures collected by the National Police Headquarters put the number killed at 1,203 people. Officials fear the toll will rise steeply in the coming days and are preparing for the worst, declaring a 14-day state of emergency.

One woman was recovered alive from ruins overnight in the Palu neighbourhood of Balaroa, where about 1,700 houses were swallowed up when the earthquake caused soil to liquify, the national rescue agency said.

‘We don’t know how many victims could be buried there, it’s estimated hundreds,’ said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency.

How a ‘perfect storm’ spawned disaster

Inadequate warning systems, a lack of education about what to do when the quake hit and a narrow bay that channelled the tsunami’s destructive force – a perfect storm of factors spawned the deadly disaster in Indonesia.

Questions are mounting about what exactly happened and if more could have been done to save lives.

The tragedy has highlighted what critics say is a patchy early-warning system to detect tsunamis in the seismically-active Southeast Asian archipelago.

‘There was no information about a tsunami recorded by the tide-monitoring station in Palu because it was not working,’ Widjo Kongko, a tsunami expert with the Indonesian government’s technology agency, told AFP.

The station keeps a check on changes in tides and should have detected if destructive waves were headed for the city.

After the initial quake, Indonesia’s geophysics agency – which monitors seismic activity – did issue a tsunami warning but lifted it soon afterwards.

It was only later that images emerged of a surging wall of water charging into the coast, flattening buildings and overturning cars.

Tide-monitoring stations and data-modelling are the main tools in Indonesia for predicting if a quake has generated a tsunami.

But even if all the country’s stations are working, experts say the network is limited and in any case gives people little time to flee as they only detect waves once they are close to shore.

Efforts to improve systems have been beset by problems, from a failure to properly maintain new equipment to bureaucratic bickering.

After a quake-tsunami in 2004 off Sumatra island killed 220,000 across the region, with most victims in Indonesia, 22 early-warning buoys were deployed around the country to detect tsunamis.

But officials have admitted that they are no longer working after being vandalised and due to a lack of funds for maintenance.

In another case, a major project with funding from the US National Science Foundation to deploy high-tech tsunami sensors in a quake-prone part of western Indonesia has been delayed.

Louise Comfort, a natural disaster expert from the University of Pittsburgh who has led the American side of the initiative, said that it had been put on hold after disagreement between government agencies and a delay in getting financing.

‘It’s so disheartening and it’s so sad because we’ve got the technology, we’ve got the knowledge, we know we can do it,’ she told AFP.

However, others called for a stronger focus on simply teaching people to head to higher ground when a quake hits, rather than on expensive technology which many communities in a developing country like Indonesia cannot afford.

‘For a place like Indonesia to try and defend its coastline, education is almost certainly going to outpace technology for the foreseeable future,’ said Adam Switzer, a tsunami expert from Nanyang Technological University’s Earth Observatory of Singapore.

‘Every kid in Indonesia needs to be taught what to do if they are on the coast and there is an earthquake.’

Observers stressed the Indonesian quake was highly complex, and it would not have been easy to predict it would send a tsunami barrelling towards the small community of Palu.

The initial tremor was a sideways movement of tectonic plates, rather than the sort of violent upward thrust that would typically generate destructive waves, and was followed by scores of aftershocks.

Experts believe that the tsunami could have been triggered by an underwater landslide that followed the tremor.

Palu’s unique geography will not have helped, they said – the tsunami likely intensified as it raced down the narrow bay on which the city sits.

‘Geographical factors (the narrow bay, shallow water) seemed to have played major roles,’ said Taro Arikawa, a professor at Chuo University in Tokyo.

‘The tsunami must have come very fast and suddenly.’

The terrifying moment families run for their lives in Indonesia as tsunami and quakes turn the ground to LIQUID

The surface of tsunami-destroyed Palu City in Indonesia has turned to mush, with the death toll from Friday’s natural disaster likely to climb even higher from 1,203.

Houses and buildings have moved, sunken or collapsed as a result of the ‘liquefaction’ of the ground and there are more people still suspected to be trapped.

This natural phenomenon occurs during an earthquake when tremors shake normally compact layers of sand and soil into a deadly ‘soup’ that can create an effect similar to a sink hole.

In a video shared to Twitter on Sunday, families stood watch as buildings around them crumbled and the earth slid beneath their feet.

Houses and buildings have moved, sunken or collapsed as a result of the ‘liquefaction’ of the ground and there are more people still suspected to be trapped

The short clip was uploaded by Indonesian official Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, who wrote, ‘houses moved and collapsed were caused by the liquefaction process and collapsed due to the 7.4 SR earthquake in Palu City.

‘The ground surface moves and sinks so that all buildings are destroyed. The geological process is very terrible. It is estimated that victims are trapped in this area.’

Loud rumbling and crashing could be heard in the footage as a distressed family, including a baby, fled from nearby crumbling buildings.

The panicked group were forced to watched as a large shed-like structure fell to the ground before sliding across it towards them.

There were scenes of chaos as people scurried to reach safe ground – an impossible task given the dangerous sinking mud.

Fears have been mounting for the the fishing town of Donggala, which was closer to the epicentre of the quake, because rescuers have not been able to reach it.

The town of Mamuju was also severely affected but currently impossible to access due to damaged roads and disrupted telecommunications.


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