On 28 September 2018 at 17:02 WIB (Indonesian Western Time), an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.4 hit Central Sulawesi, 27 kilometers northeast of Donggala with a shallow epicenter (10 km). It was immediately followed by a tsunami warning by BMKG (Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency). This earthquake triggered a tsunami that hit the coast at 17:22 WIB. 2 provinces were directly affected by the earthquake and tsunami: Central Sulawesi Province (4 districts/city; Donggala, Palu City, Sigi and Parigi Moutong) and West Sulawesi Province (North Mamuju District).
According to the Central Sulawesi Earthquake Response Plan (as of 4 October) prepared by the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT), the earthquake and tsunami effectively cut off much of Palu and Donggala from the outside world for several days. Electricity and telecommunications were cut. The airport runway and control tower were both severely damaged. The seaport, which the region relied on for fuel supplies, lost its crane for loading and unloading cargo. Debris and landslides blocked sections of the main roads leading north from Makassar, east from Poso and south from Garontalo.
Whole villages were submerged when the land they were built upon liquified. As of 4 October, power had been restored in some parts of Palu. However, fuel is in short supply and vehicles, generators and water pumps are unable to run. People in Palu report having to queue for up to two hours to access water. Shops and markets largely remain closed, and health facilities are reportedly running low on essential medicine and supplies. On 1 October, the Government of Indonesia, through the national disaster management agency (BNPB) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, welcomed specific offers of international assistance in line with identified humanitarian needs on the ground.
The Government of Indonesia has significant experience and capacity to manage natural disasters, but given the scale and complexity of this emergency, UN agencies and NGOs are working closely with Government ministries to provide all the necessary technical support.
According to the most updated information about the impacts of this disaster from the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Centre), as of 26th October, there were already 2,081 casualties, with 1,309 missing or feared to be buried, and 4,438 major injuries. As many as 206,494 displaced persons are sheltered in 122 evacuation site, with 68,451 houses significantly damaged. According to ASEAN Specialized Meteorological Centre (ASMC), the sub-seasonal forecast indicates that Central Sulawesi may still experience rains and wetter conditions in the coming period.
Much of the death toll was caused by the rubble of collapsed buildings, and also as a direct impact of the tsunami in coastal areas. In addition, there was also a liquefaction phenomenon that submerged houses and buildings. The Governor of Central Sulawesi, Longki Djanggola, declared a state of emergency for 28 days, from 28 September 2018 to 26 October 2018, with an emergency transition status to Recovery for 60 days (27 October-25 December 2018). The Governor appointed the Commander of Korem (Resort Military Command) 132 /Tadulako as commander of emergency response, so the main command post on the ground is directed to Korem 132/ Tadulako.