ACAPS Briefing Note: Indonesia - Earthquake and Tsunami (1 October 2018)


Several earthquakes struck Central Sulawesi province from 28–29 September. The strongest earthquake had a magnitude of 7.5 and triggered a tsunami that hit land at a speed of 800 kph with waves of up to 6m. Around 48,000 people have been displaced and 1,200 people killed, with these numbers expected to continue rising rapidly. At least, 300,000 people were exposed to category 5-8 shaking, while up to 1.5 million people who live in the area may be affected.

Humanitarian Constraints

Access to the affected areas is severely constrained, due to factors including a landslide across the main road into Palu, restrictions on flights into the airport, the destruction of major seaports and lack of communication with these areas. The full extent of damage in affected areas remains unknown. Aid convoys are travelling groups because of the risk of looting.

Anticipated scope and scale

Donggala, Mamuji and Parigi Moutong have not yet been reached and assessed. These areas were closest to the epicentre and are likely to have been severely affected by both the earthquake and the tsunami. Casualties and the number of displaced people are also expected to rise rapidly in the coming days. If an effective and coordinated humanitarian response is not implemented quickly, the risk of disease outbreaks and a significant deterioration of health conditions is high. However, the speed of the response is also likely to be limited by severe access constraints.