The Faint Glow Of Cosmic Hydrogen

A study published recently in Nature has revealed the presence of a hitherto undetected component of the universe—large masses of gas surrounding distant galaxies. An international team from some 10 scientific institutions has shown that almost the whole of the early universe shows a faint glow in the Lyman-alpha line. This line is one of the key “fingerprints” of hydrogen. This detection reveals the existence of extensive masses of gas around primitive galaxies. The results of this study are based on observations made with the MUSE spectrograph on the Very Large Telescope (VLT) of the European Southern Observatory, Cerro Paranal, Chile.

The principal investigator of the research, Lutz Wisotzki, of the Leibniz Institute of Astrophysics in Potsdam, Germany, recalls that when he presented this image for the first time at a conference a year ago, a colleague exclaimed, “Twenty years ago there was no Lyman-alpha anywhere, but now it’s everywhere!” The high sensitivity of MUSE has revealed that Lyman-alpha emission covers the whole sky, including the apparently empty spaces between the galaxies.

The article published in Nature provides a link between several lines of astrophysical research. Its unprecedented sensitivity offers new knowledge about the gas in the environments of the galaxies, particularly during their infancy. It also offers a basis for speculation about the sources of energy for all the Lyman-alpha emissions; the results will be of use for the next generation of theoretical models for the formation of galaxies.

Astronomical research is concerned with obtaining the most complete possible picture of the universe and its components. The results of this work have supplied new information about physical processes in the universe that had not been visible until now. This phenomenon is not associated with a single interesting object, instead offering a new view of the entire cosmos through a representative window. It shows that the sky looks quite different depending on what type of instruments researchers use to observe it, just as the sky at radio or X-ray wavelengths looks quite different from the visible sky.

“While the Hubble Space Telescope shows us light only where there are galaxies, and between them we do not see anything, only empty sky, MUSE in Lyman-alpha shows light wherever we look,” explains Ana Monreal-Ibero, an IAC researcher and a co-author of the publication. This instrument has also allowed researchers to obtain information about some of the faintest galaxies known, too faint to be observed with the Hubble.

“In the future, we plan to make even more sensitive measurements,” concludes Lutz Wisotzki. “We want to know the details about how these immense cosmic reservoirs of atomic hydrogen are distributed in space.”

UN Warns Indonesia Quake Needs ‘Vast’ As Toll Nears 1,400

Nearly 1,400 people are now known to have died in the quake-tsunami that smashed into Indonesia’s Sulawesi island, with UN officials warning needs are “vast” for both desperate survivors and rescue teams still searching for victims.

Almost 200,000 people want urgent help, the UN’s humanitarian office said, among them tens of thousands of children, with an estimated 66,000 homes destroyed or damaged by the 7.5-magnitude quake and the tsunami it spawned.

Survivors are battling thirst and hunger, with food and clean water in short supply, and local hospitals are overwhelmed by the number of injured.

“The sense from the teams all working there… is one of real frustration,” Jens Laerke, from the UN’s humanitarian office, told reporters in Geneva late Tuesday.

“There are still large areas of what might be the worst-affected areas that haven’t been properly reached, but the teams are pushing, they are doing what they can.”

In the hard-hit city of Palu, which was trashed by tsunami waves that swept away people, cars and houses, police officers fired warning shots and tear gas on Tuesday to ward off people ransacking shops.

As survivors pick through the shattered remains of their neighbourhoods, they find more and more bodies.

“The death toll is now 1,374, 113 missing,” Willem Rampangilei, head of Indonesia’s national disaster agency, told reporters in Palu on Tuesday.

“And there are still a few bodies trapped under the rubble. We don’t know how many. Our priority is still to find and save people,” he added.

– Body bag shortage –

Authorities are expecting the number of dead to continue rising as rescuers make contact with previously cut off areas.

The Indonesia-based ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance said that more body bags were “urgently” needed as fears grow that decomposing corpses could provide a breeding ground for deadly diseases.

Rescue efforts have been hampered by a lack of heavy machinery, severed transport links, the scale of the damage, and the Indonesian government’s initial reluctance to accept foreign help.

The Indonesian military is leading the rescue effort, but following a reluctant acceptance of help by President Joko Widodo three days after the quake struck, international NGOs also now have teams on the ground in Palu.

International aid offers have picked up since Jakarta asked for help. Late Tuesday the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund said it was releasing $15 million in aid.

“The Government of Indonesia is experienced and well-equipped in managing natural disasters, but sometimes, as with all other countries, outside help is also needed,” Mark Lowcock, the UN’s Emergency Relief Coordinator, said in a statement.

On Wednesday, Australia also announced it was sending a medical team to the disaster zone and was providing an additional $5 million in aid.

Despite official assurances, desperation was evident on the streets of Palu, where survivors clambered through wreckage hunting for anything salvageable.

– ‘We need food and water’ –

Others crowded around daisy-chained power strips at the few buildings that still have electricity, or queued for water, cash or petrol being brought in via armed police convoy.

“The government, the president have come here, but what we really need is food and water,” Burhanuddin Aid Masse, 48, told AFP.

Queues to get a few litres of petrol lasted more than 24 hours in some places.

Sanitation is also a growing problem. “People everywhere want to go to the toilet but there’s no toilet. So we do it along the road at night,” said 50-year-old Armawati Yarmin.

Palu’s port, a key transit point for aid, has been damaged.

Berths for ships survived the quake but many of the cranes and equipment that would be needed to quickly offload supplies were toppled by the tremors, the UN said.

There are fears many of the more remote communities are missing out on the immediate aid response which has focused on Palu.

Along the road to Donggala — a large town close to the epicentre of the quake — there were more scenes of destruction. The town itself appeared relatively unscathed, but in the worst affected areas it was difficult to find a single vertical surface.

Donggala resident Farid, aged 48, pleaded for help: “Don’t centre all the aid on Palu,” he said. “We in Donggala have nothing.”

Indonesia is no stranger to natural disasters.

It sits along the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, the world’s most tectonically active region, a location that lends the archipelago stunning volcanic scenery and fertile soils.

But its 260 million people remain hugely vulnerable to earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions.

A massive 2004 quake triggered a tsunami that killed 220,000 throughout the region, including 168,000 in Indonesia alone.

Volcano Erupts Just Northwest Of Where Quake-Tsunami Tragedy Hit In Indonesia

As rescuers rush against time to find remaining survivors still missing after the Indonesian earthquake and tsunami disaster, a volcano has erupted to the northwest of Palu.

Indonesia disaster management officials say Mount Soputank, located in North Sulawesi, erupted on Wednesday.

Photos show smoke pouring from Soputan with observers stating the highest ash column was about 4000m.

Volcanic ash rain is expected to fall in the area northwest of the mountain.

Disaster agency BNPD says it will not impact flights at this stage.

Sam Ratulangi International Airport, located southeast of the volcano, will operate as usual for now.

Face masks to help residents deal with the ash have been issued to the community.

“The community does not need to evacuate because they are still safe,” the latest alert reads.

“Within a 4km radius there is no settlement. So it’s still safe.”

The BNPD says the current alert for Mount Soputan is a level 3 “standby”, which means the community should not be active in all areas within a 4km radius of it speak.

Nearby communities have been advised to prepare for rain ash but remain calm.


Friday’s earthquake and tsunami disaster in central Sulawesi has killed nearly 1350 people according to disaster response officials, prompting Australia to send emergency healthcare support to the region.

More than 50 Australian medical professionals will be sent to Indonesia to help in the aftermath, as part of the $5m package.

“We will be working very closely with the Indonesian government to make sure that the support we are providing is highly targeted,” Defence Minister Marise Payne told reporters in Washington.

Australia’s foreign affairs department has been asked whether the eruption of Mt Soputan will affect aid being sent to Palu, they are yet to provide comment.

Australia has also offered emergency relief supplies including shelter, water and hygiene kits, as well as to deploy defence force personnel to assist the Indonesian Government with their response.

It’s understood the Indonesian authorities are still considering what resources they will need as the remoteness of the area and loss of communications infrastructure continues to makes it difficult to assess the full scale of the disaster at this stage.

Meanwhile, trucks carrying food for desperate survivors have rolled in with a police escort to guard against looters.

The United Nations and relief agencies have now sent in more reinforcements to help the decimated region.

UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said on Tuesday that “needs are vast” for the devastated country, with Indonesians urgently requiring shelter, clean water, food, fuel and emergency medical care.

In the days after the magnitude 7.5 earthquake and tsunami struck, supplies of food, water, fuel and medicine had yet to reach the hardest-hit areas outside Palu, the largest city that was heavily damaged. Many roads in the earthquake zone are blocked and communications lines are down.

“We feel like we are stepchildren here because all the help is going to Palu,” said Mohamad Taufik, 38, from the town of Donggala, where five of his relatives are still missing.

“There are many young children here who are hungry and sick, but there is no milk or medicine.”

National disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the death toll was expected to rise.

Hundreds of other people have been injured, and scores of uncounted bodies could still be buried in collapsed buildings in Sigi and Balaroa under quicksand-like mud caused by the quake.

More than 25 countries have offered assistance after Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo appealed for international help.

Little of that, however, has reached the disaster zone, and increasingly desperate residents grabbed food and fuel from damaged stores and begged for help.

“Australia has expertise, it has resources in particular areas,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Perth.

“We’re looking to see how we can best fit the need to ensure that we can do whatever we can to support our Indonesian friends and neighbours in this time of very genuine need.”

An aircraft carrying 12,000 litres of fuel had arrived. and trucks with food were on the way with police escorts to guard against looters. Many gas stations were inoperable either because of quake damage or from people stealing fuel, Mr Nugroho said.


The frustration of waiting for days without help has angered some survivors. “Pay attention to Donggala, Mr Jokowi. Pay attention to Donggala,” yelled one resident in a video broadcast on local TV, referring to the president. “There are still a lot of unattended villages here.”

The town’s administrative head, Kasman Lassa, all but gave residents permission to take food — but nothing else — from stores.

“Everyone is hungry and they want to eat after several days of not eating,” Lassa said on local TV. “We have anticipated it by providing food, rice, but it was not enough. There are many people here. So, on this issue, we cannot pressure them to hold much longer.”

Nearly 62,000 people have been displaced from their homes, Mr Nugroho said.

Most of the attention has been focused so far on Palu, which has 380,000 people and is easier to reach than other hard-hit areas.

UN spokesman Mr Haq said that relief agencies are on the ground or en route. He said the agencies are working closely with the government to provide technical support.

He told reporters that water is the main issue because most of the water supply infrastructure has been damaged.

He said the Indonesian Ministry of Social Affairs has asked the UN children’s agency, UNICEF, to send social workers to the affected area to support children who are alone or became separated from their families.

Mr Haq said the World Health Organisation warned that a lack of shelter and damaged water sanitation facilities could lead to outbreaks of communicable diseases.

Two Monster Tropical Cyclones Are Raging In The Pacific Ocean

For the first time in more than a decade, Earth fueled two Category-5-equivalent storms early Tuesday. These two behemoths are located on opposite sides of the Pacific Ocean basin: Hurricane Walaka to the northeast and Super Typhoon Kong Rey to the west.

Early Tuesday, both tempests packed winds over 157 mph, becoming the first duo to achieve Category 5 winds simultaneously since 2005.

The two storms weakened very slightly by Tuesday afternoon, dropping back to Category 4.

Walaka has winds up to 150 mph, a mere 7 mph below the Category 5 threshold. Located about 400 miles west of Honolulu, Walaka has prompted a high surf advisory for nearly everyone in the Hawaiian archipelago but the Big Island. Waves of 12 to 16 feet are possible. The storm is far enough away that Hawaii will avoid more-direct effects.

While Walaka’s center is far from any inhabited land, the National Hurricane Center has issued a dire warning for the Johnston Atoll, a wildlife refuge that is unincorporated and administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The zero-population, four-island territory makes up a mere 1.03 square miles but is likely to sustain a direct hit from a 140 mph eyewall. The former military base was once used as a nuclear weapons testing site and a place to store dioxin-loaded agent orange.

Averaged globally, about five storms worldwide achieve Category 5 status annually, according to a tweet by Ryan Maue of About a quarter of all major tropical cyclones — equivalent to Category 3 or stronger — make it to Category 5. That said, Walaka appears to mainly be a storm for the fish. Despite an exceptionally low surface air pressure, about the same as at the top of Oahu, the vacuum-like cyclone won’t pose much of a threat to land. By Wednesday, it is expected to begin a rapid weakening trend.

Kong Rey, meanwhile, has also briefly tempered to Category 4 status. About 300 miles east-northeast of Manila, the massive typhoon features sustained winds of 155 mph and gusts to 190 mph. The storm is projected to gradually weaken over the next few days, arriving in South Korea as an 85 mph cyclone Saturday.

Kong Rey is a sparky storm, with considerable lightning activity being picked up in its southern eyewall. The Korea Meteorological Administration estimates at least a 70 percent chance that Seoul will encounter gusts up to hurricane force by the weekend.

Odd as it may seem, things could be worse. On Sept. 11, 1961, three simultaneous Category 5s roamed two ocean basins. Carla spun mischievously across the Atlantic, while Pamela and Nancy cranked through the Pacific.

It has been an exceptionally active year for storms in the northeast Pacific Ocean. Nine major hurricanes, rated Category 3 or higher, have formed — tied for the most on record. The ocean basin has racked up more than double the amount of accumulated cyclone energy it would normally see by this time of year.

10 Million At Risk Of Flooding As Remnants Of Tropical Storm Rosa Soak Southwest

Heavy rain from the remnants of Tropical Storm Rosa soaked the Southwest on Tuesday, and about 10 million people remained at risk of flooding.

The Phoenix area saw widespread rain Tuesday morning, leading to flooded roads and commuting headaches.

The storm drenched northwestern Mexico on Monday, claiming at least one victim. A woman was swept away by floodwaters and drowned in the city of Caborca, Sonora, on the Sea of Cortez.

As of Tuesday morning, the center of what was left of Rosa was about 300 miles southwest of Phoenix. With winds of about 30 mph, the system was no longer tracked by the National Hurricane Center.

Rain will continue to soak the Southwest over the next couple of days; as much as a half-foot is possible in the Arizona mountains. This amount of rain “may produce life-threatening flash flooding,” the hurricane center said. “Dangerous debris flows and landslides are also possible in mountainous terrain.”

From Arizona to Utah, residents filled sandbags in anticipation of soaking rainfall and potential flooding.

In southern Arizona, rain flooded streets and caused power outages Monday in Yuma. At least six roads in Tucson were closed because of flash flooding from washes that overflowed.

Forecasts call for heavy rainfall in the watch areas, which include Las Vegas, Phoenix and Salt Lake City. Flooding is possible in slot canyons and normally dry washes.

National Weather Service meteorologists in Phoenix said central and northern Arizona stood to get hit with the heaviest amounts of precipitation.

Metropolitan Phoenix, where temperatures were above 100 degrees a few days ago, cooled to the 80s Monday because of Rosa.

Much of Rosa’s rainfall will target an area of extreme-to-exceptional drought in the Four Corners region, according to AccuWeather. The rainfall should be enough to significantly wind back the severity of the drought. The rain is likely to help fill area lakes and reservoirs.

Hurricane Sergio continued to roar far from land in the Pacific Ocean. Sergio had winds of 100 mph and was centered about 890 miles south-southwest of the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, the hurricane center said. The storm moved west at 13 mph. It poses no threat to any land areas.

In the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Leslie spun harmlessly about 1,100 miles east of the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It will not affect any land areas.

Closer to home, the hurricane center monitored a weather disturbance in the southwestern Caribbean Sea. It has a 20 percent chance of becoming a depression or storm within the next five days.

UPDATE : Indonesian Tsunami: Death Toll Hits 1,200; Survivors Desperate For Aid

Emergency crews are still trying to find victims of an earthquake and tsunami that struck Indonesia’s island of Sulawesi, killing at least 1,200 people, according to local media citing government officials.

The death toll could rise even higher, officials warn, as workers clear debris, rubble and vehicles that were swept away by a massive wave of seawater on Friday.

The tsunami was triggered by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake that struck along the coastal district of Donggala on Friday. Most of the dead were found in nearby Palu, a city of nearly 300,000 where an onlooker took a video of the seawater raging ashore just after 5 p.m., local time.

Relief and rescue efforts have been hampered by communication and transportation problems in the stricken region. The damage caused landslides and forced Palu’s international airport to close for at least one full day.

Desperate for food and water, some local residents have taken matters into their own hands. The Jakarta Post says “many survivors blocked trucks carrying aid to plunder the contents” in Palu and Donggala. Photos from the region also show people clambering atop a fuel truck, filling up makeshift containers and passing them down to a waiting crowd.

Other residents gathered at Palu’s port, hoping to get at any supplies arriving by ship. A number of stores were looted, the Post adds.

Videos posted to social media also captured the scene as the quake struck, with people scrambling away from large cracks in the ground as buildings either collapsed or simply slid away — their foundations overcome by the earth’s liquefaction.

President Joko Widodo visited Palu on Sunday, inspecting the large-scale damage and consoling survivors. He also acknowledged problems with getting aid to the region and urged people to be patient.

Thousands of people began camping at the airport over the weekend, hoping to leave. But the airport has been operating at partial capacity since it reopened. And as they wait for a chance to fly out, people are also enduring heat of more the 90 degrees, with little to sustain them.

Overwhelmed by the sheer number of bodies to deal with, local and military officials arranged for a mass burial site for the victims, according to Indonesian disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, who says officials feared a prolonged delay could create a new health crisis.

In addition to travel and communication problems, relief agencies say their response to the latest crisis is somewhat limited by the fact that many staff members remain deployed to Lombok — an island hundreds of miles south of Sulawesi, where a 6.9 magnitude earthquake struck one month ago.

“Oxfam is provisionally planning a response to reach 100,000 people in Palu city and Donggala district,” said Ancilla Bere, Oxfam’s humanitarian manager in Indonesia. “This is likely to focus on the immediate needs such as ready-to-eat meals, water purification kits and emergency shelters.”

Bere added in a statement emailed to NPR that while access “remains a big concern with a key road cut off by a landslide and other infrastructure badly damaged,” she’s glad to hear the Indonesian armed forces are using military aircraft and helicopters to reach survivors.

On Monday, Indonesia’s energy agency said it hopes to restore the electricity network within three days. In the meantime, portable generators and other supplies are being sent to the area aboard two C-130 Hercules cargo jets, according to Nugroho.

The earthquake hit at 5:02 p.m., quickly triggering a tsunami alert. But about 30 minutes later, Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency canceled the warning, saying the quake was “not capable of generating a tsunami affecting the Indian Ocean region.”

Soon afterward, reports of a large tsunami began to emerge, including video showing a large wave ripping through homes and streets near the Palu Grand Mall.

The earthquake was caused by “strike-slip faulting at shallow depths,” the U.S. Geological Survey says. And while it’s common to focus on temblors’ epicenters, the agency says, “earthquakes of this size are more appropriately described as slip over a larger fault area.” It estimates that this quake’s size was around 80×30 km — or roughly 50 by 20 miles.

The USGS adds, “Shallow earthquakes of this size can often have a deadly impact on nearby communities.”

UPDATE : Hard-Hit Indonesian City Buries Its Dead As Toll Tops 840

PALU, Indonesia — Brightly colored body bags were placed side-by-side in a freshly dug mass grave Monday, as a hard-hit Indonesian city began burying its dead from the devastating earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 840 people and left thousands homeless.

The death toll, largely from the city of Palu, is expected to keep rising as areas cut off by the damage are reached. The magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck at dusk Friday and generated a tsunami said to have been as high as 6 meters (20 feet) in places.

Local army commander Tiopan Aritonang said 545 bodies would be brought to the grave from one hospital alone. The trench dug in Palu was 10 meters by 100 meters (33 feet by 330 feet) and can be enlarged if needed, said Willem Rampangilei, chief of Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency.

“This must be done as soon as possible for health and religious reasons,” he said. Indonesia is majority Muslim, and religious custom calls for burials soon after death, typically within one day.

Local military spokesman Mohammad Thorir said the area adjacent to a public cemetery can hold 1,000 bodies. All of the victims, coming from local hospitals, have been photographed to help families locate where their relatives were buried. Video footage showed residents walking from body bag to body bag, opening the tops to check if they could identify faces.

Around midday, teams of workers, their mouths covered by masks, carried 18 bodies and laid them in the trench. A backhoe waited to push soil on top of the dead. More burials were expected to follow.

Military and commercial aircraft were delivering some aid and supplies. But there was a need for heavy equipment to reach possible survivors buried in collapsed buildings, including an eight-story hotel in Palu where voices had been heard in the rubble.

People suffering from a lack of food and supplies were also becoming more desperate. Local television said around 3,000 residents had flocked to the Palu airport trying to get out. Footage showed some people screaming in anger because they were not able to board departing military aircraft. The airport has resumed only some commercial flights.

“We have not eaten for three days!” one woman yelled. “We just want to be safe!”

Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo authorized the acceptance of international help, said disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, adding that generators, heavy equipment and tents were among the items needed. He said the European Union and 10 countries have offered assistance, including the United States, Australia and China.

“We will send food today, as much as possible with several aircraft,” Widodo told reporters in the capital, Jakarta, adding that a supply of fuel was also set to arrive.

Nugroho said conditions in the Balaroa section of Palu were particularly bad because the earthquake caused the ground to violently heave up and sink down in places, trapping many people under destroyed houses. In Petobo, another area of the city, the temblor caused loose, wet soil to liquefy, creating a thick, heavy mud that caused massive damage.

“In Petobo, it is estimated that there are still hundreds of victims buried in mud material,” Nugroho said.

Villagers who pulled out loved ones — alive and dead — over the weekend expressed frustration that it took rescue teams until Monday to reach Petobo.

Edi Setiawan, 32, said he and fellow villagers were able to rescue five children and four adults, including a pregnant woman. However, his sister and father were not among them.

“My sister was found embracing her father,” he said. “My mother was able to survive after struggling against the mud and being rescued by villagers.”

Another villager, 52-year-old Idrus, who uses one name, said that “up to Saturday we still saw many people screaming for help from the roofs. But we could not do anything to help them. Now their cries are no longer heard.”

But there were cases of survivors still being pulled from the rubble in different locations, including a 25-year-old woman found alive Sunday evening in the ruins of the Roa-Roa Hotel, according to the National Search and Rescue Agency, which released photos of her lying on a stretcher covered with a blanket.

Novry Wullur, an officer from Indonesia’s search and rescue agency, said Nurul Istiharah, 15, managed to survive after being trapped inside her house after it collapsed. Her mother and niece were dead beside her, and water had left her submerged up to her neck and in danger of drowning. Her legs were finally freed and she was pulled out of the rubble. She was being treated for hypothermia at a hospital.

The confirmed death toll of 844 released by Nugroho on Monday afternoon was an increase of only 12 since the previous day, with nearly the entire total from Palu. The regencies of Donggala, Sigi and Parigi Moutong — with a combined population of 1.2 million — had yet to be fully assessed. Nearly 50,000 people have been displaced from their homes in Palu alone, Nugroho said.

He said 114 foreigners were in Palu and Donggala during the disaster. All were accounted for except one Belgian, one South Korean and six French.

It was the latest natural disaster to hit Indonesia, which is frequently struck by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis because of its location on the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin. In December 2004, a massive magnitude 9.1 earthquake off Sumatra island in western Indonesia triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries. More recently, a powerful quake on the island of Lombok killed 505 people in August.

In Donggala, the site closest to the earthquake’s epicenter, aerial footage on Metro TV showed the sugary blond sands of beaches swept out to sea, along with some buildings. Some buildings in the town were severely damaged, with plywood walls shredded and chunks of concrete scattered on the pavement. Much of the damage, however, appeared limited to the waterfront.

Palu, which has more than 380,000 people, was strewn with debris from the earthquake and tsunami. A heavily damaged mosque was half submerged and a shopping mall was reduced to a crumpled hulk. A large bridge with yellow arches collapsed.

The city is built around a narrow bay that apparently magnified the force of the tsunami as the waves raced into the tight inlet. Nugroho said water was reported as high as 6 meters (20 feet) in some places.

In one devastated area in Palu, residents said dozens of people could still be buried in their homes.

“The ground rose up like a spine and suddenly fell. Many people were trapped and buried under collapsed houses. I could do nothing to help,” resident Nur Indah said, crying. “In the evening, some of them turned on their cellphones just to give a sign that they were there. But the lights were off later and the next day.”

With hundreds injured, earthquake-damaged hospitals were overwhelmed.

Indonesia is a vast archipelago of more than 17,000 islands home to 260 million people. Roads and infrastructure are poor in many areas, making access difficult in the best of conditions.