One villager said they had survived by ransacking shops.
Reports indicate that the country's early detection warning systems were not working before the tsunami hit.
Indonesia has the world's biggest Muslim population but there are Christian communities throughout the archipelago, including in the small city of Palu hit hard by a 7.5 magnitude natural disaster and tsunami on 28 September.
"Once we got everyone on board, you know these guys have lost a lot, they've lost houses and lost family members, so to see them smile and give a thumbs up as we took off was a really proud moment for the guys".
The official death toll from the quake and the tsunami it triggered stands at 1,571, but it will certainly rise.
The Red Cross said Monday it had treated more than 1,800 people at medical clinics and administered first aid to a similar number in the immediate disaster zone.
A French rescue worker says his team, using high-tech scanners, has detected a person believed to be still alive under the rubble of a hotel in the Indonesian city of Palu, almost a week after it was struck by a powerful quake and tsunami.
The disaster agency said the official search for the unaccounted would continue until October 11 at which point they would be listed as missing, presumed dead.
In the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, volunteers walked around thoroughfares empty of cars collecting donations for quake victims during the weekly vehicle free morning in the city centre. He says how many plane loads of aid fly from Darwin will depend on future Indonesian requests for help.
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Authorities have yet to conduct a tally of casualties in Sirenja and the other districts near the epicenter north of Palu, but Lakuaci estimated dozens of people had been killed in the area. Children and the elderly were starting to get sick and fuel was also in very short supply, he said.
Nugroho said other victims still are buried in the mud and debris and have not yet been recovered.
Rocked by back-to-back disasters of an quake and a tsunami, the scale of the devastation on Sulawesi island is still being uncovered.
Sulawesi is one of the archipelago nation's five main islands, and like the others, is exposed to frequent earthquakes and tsunami.
Traumatised survivors are desperate for help.
Thousands of people are believed to be missing in the towns of Baleroa and Petobo, where rivers of soil swept away entire neighborhoods in the aftermath of a 7.5-magnitude quake and ensuing tsunami on September 28.
In coordination with the Government of Indonesia, IOM is preparing to send an aid convoy from the south of the island to the north, where needs are greatest.
They are unsure when they'll be able to rebuild and spend hours each day often futilely trying to secure necessities such as fuel for generators. Figures for more remote areas are trickling in but they seem to have suffered fewer deaths than the city. Officials said rescue efforts will now focus on supplying aid and relief to survivors of effected areas.