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Indonesia quake-tsunami death toll jumps to 384

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PALU, INDONESIA: Nearly 400 people were killed as a powerful earthquake sent a tsunami barrelling into the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, officials said on Saturday. Hospitals struggled to cope with hundreds of injured and rescuers scrambled to reach the stricken region.

The national disaster agency put the official death toll so far at 384, all of them in the tsunami-struck city of Palu, but warned the toll was likely to rise.

In the city -- home to around 350,000 people -- partially covered bodies lay on the ground near the shore, the day after tsunami waves 1.5 metres (five feet) came ashore.

There were also concerns over the whereabouts of hundreds of people preparing for a beach festival due to start Friday evening, the disaster agency said.

Hospitals were overwhelmed by the influx of injured, with many people being treated in the open air, while other survivors helped to retrieve the remains of those who died.

One man was seen carrying the muddy corpse of a small child.

The tsunami was triggered by a strong quake that brought down buildings and sent locals fleeing for higher ground as a churning wall of water crashed into Palu, where there were widespread power blackouts.

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