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Authorities scrambled on Monday to get aid and rescue equipment into quake-hit Sulawesi island, and prepared to bury some of the at least 832 dead, while the government said it would accept global help for disaster relief.

Pinoy safe The only Filipino in Palu when the quake and tsunami struck, an inmate, is safe, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said. "Every minute an ambulance brings in bodies. The minimarkets are looted everywhere".

Most casualties are from Palu, as the situation in outlying areas like Donggala, Sigi and Parigi Moutong, is yet to be ascertained.

Rescuers in Indonesia were scrambling Sunday to reach trapped victims screaming for help from collapsed buildings, while looters risked entering an unstable shopping mall to grab whatever they could find after a massive quake spawned a tsunami that left more than 800 dead.

Two survivors have been pulled from the 80-room Hotel Roa-Roa, said rescuers, and there are hopes more could be alive after calls for help were heard.

Heavy machinery needed to move rubble has still not reached the area, so search and rescue efforts are being done primarily by hand. "I have my staff on the ground, but it's impossible just to rely on their strength alone to clear this".

Rescue officials feared the full scale of Indonesia's quake and tsunami could climb far past the more than 800 already confirmed dead, as several large coastal towns remained cut off Sunday by damaged roads and downed communication lines.

"The tsunami didn't come by itself, it dragged cars, logs, houses...it hit everything on land", he added.

Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo visited the area on Sunday.

Television footage showed people being treated outdoors in makeshift medical facilities, while bodies, some of them in bags, are lined up on the streets.

The quake that hit on Friday incapacitated Palu airport, the air traffic tower was severely damaged, and cracks disabled 250 metres of the runway.

While numerous injured are being treated at local hospitals, according to CNN, at least one hospital has been structurally compromised, resulting in some of the injured being cared for in the street. There were widespread power blackouts.

An aerial view of the Baiturrahman mosque which was hit by a tsunami after a quake in West Palu Sulawesi. Reuters
An aerial view of the Baiturrahman mosque which was hit by a tsunami after a quake in West Palu Sulawesi. Reuters

A POWERFUL tsunami has hit the Indonesian island of Sulawesi following a strong magnitude 7.5 quake.

Officials estimate that up to 50 people could be trapped below the crumbled building, with rescuers managing to evacuate at least one woman on Sunday.

The video (below) is believed to have been filmed from the top floor of a parking ramp along the waterfront in Palu.

Indonesian TV showed a smartphone video of a powerful wave hitting Palu, with people screaming and running in fear.

"We ended the tsunami warning when the tsunami happened", Karnawati said.

Even deliveries by sea have posed a challenge to the affected area as the tsunami severely damaged Palu's port. Homes and other buildings in the area also suffered from flooding and structural damage.

Looters were stealing Sunday from a badly damaged mall in Palu that was not being guarded.

Friday's tremor was also felt in the far south of the island in its largest city Makassar and on neighbouring Kalimantan, Indonesia's portion of Borneo island.

On Friday evening, at around 6pm, an quake hit the city of Palu, in Indonesia.

The initial quake struck as evening prayers were about to begin in the world's biggest Muslim majority country on the holiest day of the week, when mosques are especially busy.

Indonesia is prone to earthquakes because it lies on the Ring of Fire - the line of frequent quakes and volcanic eruptions that circles virtually the entire Pacific rim.

Questions are sure to be asked why warning systems set up after that disaster appear to have failed on Friday.