About 1,700 houses in one neighborhood were swallowed up, with hundreds of people believed buried, the national disaster agency said.
Indonesia's President formally invited foreign donors to contribute to rescue and recovery efforts on the quake-and-tsunami-struck-island of Sulawesi on Monday, but his government was at pains to stress the situation was under control.
Officials fear the toll will rise steeply in the coming days and are preparing for the worst, declaring a 14-day state of emergency.
Most of the confirmed dead have been in the small city of Palu, 1,500 kilometers northeast of Jakarta.
At the mass grave, three trucks arrived stacked with bodies in orange, yellow and black bags, as authorities tried to stave off the threat of disease.
The Department of Foreign Affairs initially reported that the said Filipino was safe, but Orcine said their latest information was that "all of the detainees escaped because the building was destroyed by the quake and the tsunami".
Nugroho said that by far, 26 foreign countries and two global organisations had offered relief aids to the Indonesian Government.
President Joko Widodo authorised the acceptance of global help, with generators, heavy equipment and tents were among the most-needed items.
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Countries such as Turkey, Thailand and Australia have offered to help. "Last night, witnesses reported seeing lights, possibly from cell phones, under collapsed buildings".
World Vision is on the ground supporting rescue workers searching for survivors.
( Reuters ) Indonesian President Joko Widodo, accompanied by Central Sulawesi Governor Longki Djanggola, visits people injured by the natural disaster and tsunami in Palu, Sulawesi, Indonesia.
The official death toll now stands at 844, with 500 more people receiving treatment, while thousands have been displaced.
Thousands were crowding the Mutiara Sis Al Jufri airport just out of Palu to leave the devastated city while trying to stave off hunger and thirst under the heat of the day.
As many as 191,000 need urgent help in Indonesia after the quake, the United Nations said.
As shattered survivors scoured make-shift morgues for loved ones, and authorities struggled to dig out the living or assess the scale of the devastation beyond the city of Palu, grim warnings came that the eventual toll could reach thousands.