Many people reported trapped in the rubble of buildings brought down in the 7.5 magnitude quake which struck on Friday and triggered tsunami waves as high as six metres, officials say.
Many people were reported trapped in the rubble of buildings brought down in the 7.5 magnitude natural disaster which struck on Friday and triggered tsunami waves as high as six metres, agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told a news conference.
"We managed to pull out a woman alive from the Hotel Roa-Roa last night", Muhammad Syaugi, head of the national search and rescue agency, told AFP. In 1938, a tsunami killed more than 200 people and destroyed hundreds of houses in Donggala.
"We've got information from people that their relatives are still inside, so we're focusing on that, especially to find survivors", a rescuer identified as Yusuf, working at the ruins of the mall, told Metro TV.
The Red Cross is concerned for residents living in an area called Donggala, which is closer to the epicenter of the quake.
Vice President Jusuf Kalla said the toll could rise into the thousands.
"We have heard nothing from Donggala and this is extremely worrying".
Already, a story of bravery has emerged from the tragedy.
A massive yellow suspension bridge crossing an estuary feeding into the bay was toppled - either by the natural disaster or tsunami - and left lying on its side in the water.
Rescuers are scrambling to try to find trapped victims in collapsed buildings where voices could be heard screaming for help after a massive natural disaster that spawned a deadly tsunami in Indonesia two days ago.
Indonesia's meteorological and geophysics agency BMKG issued a tsunami warning after the quake, but lifted it 34 minutes later. But officials said they estimated the waves had hit while the warning was in force.
Hundreds of people had gathered for a festival on Palu's beach when the water smashed onshore at dusk.More news: Passenger plane crashes into Pacific lagoon after missing runway in Micronesia
"We felt a deep heartbreak, may God gives Anthonius the best place beside him, along with other victims of Donggala quake", Air Nav spokesperson Yohanes Sirait said. Reuters was not able to authenticate the footage.
Footage captured from the top floor of a parking ramp in Palu, almost 80km from the epicenter, showed waves bring down several buildings and inundating a large mosque.
Electricity and communications have been cut off, making it hard to assess the damage in Palu and nearby fishing community of Donggala, Sutopo said.
A smartphone video, widely broadcast Saturday on Indonesian TV, showed water engulfing an entire row of buildings and rushing into streets and damaging a mosque as onlookers ran in fear.
Dozens of injured people were being treated in tents set up in the open.
Indonesian president Joko Widodo was expected to travel to the region to see the devastation for himself on Sunday.
"If he needs our help, he'll have it", Mr Morrison told the ABC on Sunday, describing the rising death toll as "horrific".
Other disastrous results include the escaping of over half of the 560 inmates who were contained in prison in Palu.
The military has started sending in aircraft with aid from Jakarta and other cities, authorities said.
Nugroho has said that essential aircraft can land at Palu airport's, though AirNav, which oversees aircraft navigation, said the runway was cracked and the control tower damaged.
Indonesia has been hit by a string of other deadly quakes including a devastating 9.1-magnitude natural disaster that struck off the coast of Sumatra in December 2004.
This latest quake comes after a series of earthquakes in July and August killed at least 623 people and destroyed hundreds of thousands of buildings on the Indonesian island of Lombok, which is situated hundreds of kilometres south-west of Sulawesi.