Disasters & Accidents

At least 34 killed, hundreds injured in Sulawesi earthquake

Jakarta, Jan 15 (efe-epa).- At least 34 people have died and several hundreds have been injured following a magnitude-6.2 earthquake early Friday on the island of Sulawesi in the central region of the Indonesian archipelago, officials reported.

The earthquake, which occurred at 2.28 am while residents were sleeping, has caused extensive damage to several towns in the area with the collapse of buildings and bridges.

At least 15,000 people have been displaced, the disaster management agency said in its latest statement, and the area is experiencing power outages and intermittent mobile services.

Also lacking enough heavy machinery, search teams face a difficult task rescuing those who may have been trapped under the rubble of the damaged and destroyed buildings, including 300 houses, a hospital, a hotel and the regional governor’s office.

In one video circulated by the agency, a girl is seen talking to rescuers through the rubble under which she is pinned alongside another female.

The earthquake was located at a depth of 10 kilometers and 6 km northeast of Majene in West Sulawesi, according to the agency. The United States Geological Survey put the depth at 18.4 km.

The shallow quake, which lasted between 5 and 7 seconds, also triggered at least three landslides that are hampering rescue operations and making it difficult to distribute aid.

However, potential for a quake-triggered tsunami was ruled out.

The Indonesian Red Cross said volunteers were providing first aid and other relief to people who have evacuated and those who have lost their homes.

Urgent needs include basic food, blankets, tents, medical services and heavy machinery.

President Joko Widodo expressed condolences to the families of the victims, as well as those affected by a landslide on Saturday in which 24 people died in Sumedang, in Java Island.

Widodo said he has instructed the heads of the disaster agency and military and police forces to take all necessary measures to find the victims and care for the injured.

Authorities warned of the risk of heavy aftershocks, and asked the people to avoid tall buildings that could collapse in the face of fresh tremors.

The earthquake has also resulted in cuts in power supply and disruptions in communications, and caused at least three landslides that blocked several roads and damaged a bridge, complicating rescue and relief efforts.

Rescuers have been manually clearing the debris and are facing enormous challenges due to the lack of excavators and other heavy machinery.

It was the second earthquake to hit the same area in less than 24 hours after a 5.9-magnitude earthquake struck Thursday afternoon.

In September 2018, a magnitude-7.5 earthquake struck Sulawesi, triggering a tsunami that claimed over 2,000 lives and displaced 200,000 people in the cities of Palu and Donggala.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area of great seismic and volcanic activities with 127 active volcanoes. It experiences about 7,000, mostly-moderate, quakes a year. EFE-EPA

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