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Palu “Mud Tsunami” Time Lapse As 5,000 Feared Missing After Earthquake


Palu “Mud Tsunami” Time Lapse As 5,000 Feared Missing After Earthquake

The Sulawesi Earthquake caused 2 Tsunamis to strike the city of Palu.

One from the ocean and from the earth.

The process of liquefaction caused a mudflow – what local residents are calling a “Mud Tsunami”, that consumed 1,700 homes in the Petobo neighborhood.


A week after the disaster hit the city with a population of 350,000, 1,994 are confirmed dead, with a further 5,000 believed missing. 

The missing consist of a combination of people presumed consumed by the mudflow, buried under rubble or swept out to sea.

While hope remains that the “missing” could be unaccounted people leaving the city or the dead being “double counted”, the extent of the liquefaction effects suggests the estimates are accurate.

This satellite footage of the mudflow shows how an entire district – from homes to coconut trees – were transported 700 meters from their original position by the mudflow.

Witnesses said the “mud” rolled like ocean waves.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the process of liquefaction occurs when:

“Water-saturated soil, shaken by an earthquake, acts like a liquid. The ground temporarily loses its ability to bear structures like buildings or homes, often with deadly results.”

Jakarta Post

Earthquake tremors can cause the water-logged soil to oscillate like waves, flow down inclines, or be ejected upward in formations called “sand boils.”


Aljazerra reported this morning that it was known that the Petobo and Balaroa areas would be susceptible to liquefaction in the event of an earthquake.

The Indonesian psyche of willingly running the risk in the face of fact and “praying” the potential consequences will never occur are why Petobo and Balaroa are now the sites of mass graves.

And it’s hardly the local population’s fault. The extent of their understanding of the geological process of liquefaction is to invent the fitting phrase “Mud Tsunami”.

Jakarta Post

Though the time for blame and pointing fingers is not today. Immediate aid to the Palu region has been slow but remains urgent.

Can you be the answer to the prayers of the “190,000 people on the brink of disaster” according to the UN?

Charities suggested by the New York Times:

The Indonesian Red Cross


Habitat for Humanity Indonesia

Humanity & Inclusion

World Vision

International Medical Corps

The Indonesian Red Cross

Sources: Aljazeera | Jakarta Post | TIME

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