A tsunami caused deaths when it hit a small city on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi on Friday after a major quake, collapsing buildings and cutting off power, officials said, although the exact number of casualties was not clear.
"The cut telecommunications and darkness are hampering efforts to obtain information,"' he said.
"All national potential will be deployed, and tomorrow morning we will deploy Hercules and helicopters to provide assistance in tsunami-affected areas", he said.
Television footage showed people running into the streets. The water smashed into buildings and a large mosque already damaged by the natural disaster.
The 7.5 magnitude quake that struck off the Indonesian island of Sulawesi on Friday briefly prompted a tsunami alert after a milder tremor brought down houses.
The Indonesian city of Palu was slammed by waves from a tsunami set off by an natural disaster.
This summer, a series of powerful quakes hit Lombok, killing more than 550 people on the holiday island and neighbouring Sumbawa.
This is the second devastating quake in as many months to hit Indonesia.
"Many bodies were found along the shoreline because of the tsunami but the numbers are still unknown", he said on Saturday.
The quake hit just off central Sulawesi at a depth of 10 kilometers just before 1100 GMT, the US Geological Survey said.
Indonesia's Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) warned that a tsunami was possible as a result, according to the Associated Press.
People in Central Sulawesi and West Sulawesi provinces were only then told to evacuate to higher ground.
State-owned flight navigation service AirNav issued a notification on the 24-hour closure of Mutiara SIS Al-Jufrie Airport in Palu until 7.20 p.m. on Saturday due to the disaster.
Bodies of some victims were found trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings, he said, adding 540 people were injured.
The jolts were felt strongly in Sirenja sub-district of Dongala district, triggering panic and forcing folks to rush outside their houses.
Women and children wailed hysterically in a video distributed by the disaster agency, which also released a photo showing a heavily damaged department store.
One person was confirmed dead and 10 others injured after the quakes.
In 2004, an natural disaster hit the Indonesian island of Sumatra, triggering a massive tsunami across the Indian Ocean, killing 226,000 people in 13 countries.