MANILA - The only Filipino on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi is safe after a powerful earthquake and tsunami left at least 420 dead there, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Saturday.
Indonesian authorities warned casualties in the provincial capital of Palu and the neighboring city of Donggala were "increasing" as news arrived from remote areas cut off by the 7.5-magnitude earthquake and 5-feet high tsunami.
The sole Filipino there is a detainee serving his sentence at the Lapas Penitentiary. He was safe after Friday's twin disasters, the DFA said in a statement quoting Ambassador to Indonesia Leehiong Wee.
The DFA also expressed its condolences to Indonesia, adding that Manila is ready to extend assistance to Jakarta.
“We grieve with our Indonesian brothers and sisters and stand hand in hand with them in praying for all of those who lost their lives in this tragedy,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said in the same statement.
At least 540 people had been badly injured, an official of Jakarta's national disaster agency said, as hospitals struggled to cope with the influx of casualties.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo said the military was being called in to the region to help search-and-rescue teams get to victims and find bodies.
Some government planes carrying relief supplies managed to land at the main airport in Palu, although officials said it would likely remain closed to commercial flights for days.
There were concerns over the whereabouts of hundreds of people preparing for a beach festival that had been due to start Friday, the disaster agency said.
Indonesia is one of the most disaster-prone nations on earth. It lies on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide and many of the world's volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.
Earlier this year, a series of powerful quakes hit Lombok, killing more than 550 people on the holiday island and neighboring Sumbawa.
Indonesia has been hit by a string of other deadly quakes including a devastating 9.1 magnitude tremor that struck off the coast of Sumatra in December 2004.
That Boxing Day quake triggered a tsunami that killed 220,000 throughout the region, including 168,000 in Indonesia.
With a report from Agence France-Presse