At least 800 dead after devastating earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia; Palu reportedly hardest hit

PHOTO: People view a ship swept ashore by tsunami in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, Sept. 30, 2018. Rescuers were scrambling Sunday to try to find trapped victims in collapsed buildings where voices could be heard screaming for help.PlayYoanes Litha/AP
WATCH Death toll soars in Indonesia

At least 800 people were killed when a double tragedy struck the nation of Indonesia -- a massive earthquake and then a devastating tsunami that added to the destruction, according to The Associated Press, which cited the country's disaster management agency.

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Many more were feared dead in the incident as bodies were being recovered from the rubble, the disaster agency spokesman, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, said Sunday.

The hardest-hit area appeared to be Palu, which is near where the 7.5-magnitude quake struck on Sept. 28 at 6 p.m. local time, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

PHOTO: Rescuers try to rescue a 15-year old earthquake victim Nurul Istikharah from her damaged house following earthquakes and tsunami in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, Sept. 30, 2018.Arimacs Wilander/AP
Rescuers try to rescue a 15-year old earthquake victim Nurul Istikharah from her damaged house following earthquakes and tsunami in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, Sept. 30, 2018.

The slip-strike quake was estimated to be at a shallow depth (about 6 miles), according to the USGS, a combination that has the tendency to produce disastrous effects.

The region has also been the site of a number of large earthquakes, including a magnitude 7.9, which occurred in January 1996.

"The 1996 earthquake -- a shallow thrust faulting earthquake likely to have occurred on the regional subduction zone system at depth beneath the shallow crust -- resulted in approximately 10 fatalities, over 60 injuries, and significant building damage in the local region," the USGS wrote.

PHOTO: The view of the village of Petopo in Palu, Indonesia, Oct. 3, 2018, swept away by an earthquake and tsunami.
SLIDESHOW: Earthquake and tsunami devastate Indonesian island

And in 2004, a massive 9.1-magnitude earthquake and the resultant tsunami struck Sumatra, according to the USGS, killing more than 200,000.

The U.S. State Department said it was not immediately aware of Americans affected by the quake or tsunami, but extended its condolences to the victims of the tragedy.

"The United States conveys its condolences and support to all of those in Indonesia affected by the earthquake and tsunami that struck Central Sulawesi on September 28," department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement. "U.S. Mission Indonesia is closely monitoring the situation."

PHOTO: Villagers carry the body of a victim following earthquakes and tsunami in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, Sept. 30, 2018. Arimacs Wilander/AP
Villagers carry the body of a victim following earthquakes and tsunami in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, Sept. 30, 2018.

Indonesia president Joko Widodo said on Twitter that roads were cut off in Palu.

According to the AP, aid and supplies were being flown in by military and commercial aircraft, but the damage in other areas near the earthquake's epicenter was uncertain.

PHOTO: People survey damage outside the shopping mall following earthquakes and tsunami in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, Sept. 30, 2018.Tatan Syuflana/AP
People survey damage outside the shopping mall following earthquakes and tsunami in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, Sept. 30, 2018.

One witness recounted to the AP how violently his hotel shook during the quake and that he didn't know what happened to his wife and daughter.

"There was no time to save ourselves," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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