Massive earthquake in Indonesia kills at least 34, leaves hundreds injured
A 6.2 magnitude earthquake has hit Indonesia’s Sulawesi island early Friday killing at least 34 people and leaving hundreds more injured, the country’s disaster mitigation agency said.
The epicentre of the quake was 3.7 miles northeast of Majene city at a depth of 6.2 miles according to Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency. In Majene, at least 8 people have died, 637 people have been injured and 15,000 residents have been displaced, according to the country’s National Board for Disaster Management (BNPB).
In the Mamugu area, an additional 26 deaths were reported, BNPB said.
Thousands have fled their homes to find safety following the quake, which was strongly felt for five to seven seconds and damaged at least 300 houses in Majene, BNPB said.
A military command office in Majene, hotels and government buildings in Mamuju have also been badly damaged. And there are people still trapped under collapsed buildings.
6.2 magnitude earthquake destroys buildings in Majene, Indonesia 🇮🇩 January 14. pic.twitter.com/n3jtfhtVzf
— #كابتن_غازي_عبداللطيف (@CaptainGhazi) January 14, 2021
“Our priority is saving victims who are still buried under the buildings,” Safaruddin Sanusi, head of West Sulawesi’s Communications and Information Department, told CNN Friday. “For example in the [West Sulawesi governor’s office] we are still trying to evacuate two security guards who are trapped inside.”
Nearly half of the buildings in Mamuju have been wiped out by the quake, he added.
“Most…of [the] people in Mamuju city are now displaced. They are afraid to stay at their houses.”
The communications chief also said the quake had damaged four of Mamuju’s largest hospitals.
“Mitra Manakara [Hospital] is flattened by this earthquake, while three others, Mamuju Central Hospital, Bhayangkara Hospital and Regional Hospital are also in [a] bad situation,” he said.
“We need more extrication equipment and more personnel to work fast [on] saving victims trapped under the building.”
“Our obstacle here is that we don’t have heavy equipment to rescue them,” Saidar Rahmanjaya, head of the Local Search and Rescue Agency of Mamuju, West Sulawesi, told local television.
Arianto Ardi, the section head of Mamuju’s Search and Rescue Agency, told CNN that officials had finished evacuations at three homes that were wiped out from the earthquake.
The agency evacuated eight people from the first home. Three survived and five people died.
There was also a lack of communication among rescue teams after local telephone lines went down after the quake, he added, saying that there were eight locations where people were in urgent need of rescue.
Shalahuddin Salman, a resident of Mamuju, said many people were trapped because they were sleeping when the quake struck at night.
“We saved four family members but one still can’t be evacuated,” he told CNN after he and a few others rescued a family from underneath a collapsed building. “(He’s) trapped inside the building. We believe he is dead.”
He said he was worried that many people were trapped under the debris of the Mitra Manakara private hospital – an eight-floor structure that was flattened.
But for thousands who were able to flee, they are choosing to stay away from their homes out of fear another quake or a tsunami could hit.
“Some of them are going to the higher place to avoid tsunami, although we have a confirmation that we have no tsunami after this big earthquake,” said West Sulawesi’s Police Grand Commissioner Syamsu Ridwan.
The earthquake sparked a power outage and caused three landslides along the main road connecting both Majene and Mamuju.
Just hours before, a 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck in the same district damaging several hours.
Indonesia is regularly hit by earthquakes, a nation of high tectonic activity.
In 2018, a devastating 6.2-magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami struck the city of Palu, in Sulawesi, killing thousands of people.
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