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At least 42 killed after strong quake rocks Indonesia's Sulawesi

At least 42 killed after strong quake rocks Indonesia's Sulawesi

Residents inspect earthquake-damaged houses in Mamuju, West Sulawesi on Jan 15, 2021 after a strong inland and shallow earthquake hit eastern Indonesia. (AP Photo/Rudy Akdyaksyah)

JAKARTA: At least 42 people were killed after a 6.2-magnitude earthquake rocked Indonesia's Sulawesi Island early on Friday morning (Jan 15), said authorities.  

Hundreds more were injured when the earthquake struck in the early hours, triggering panic among the terrified residents of the island. 

So far, 34 bodies have been hauled from beneath crumpled buildings in Mamuju, a city of about 110,000 in West Sulawesi province, while another eight were killed south of the area after the quake struck.

"We don't know how many more are missing," said Arianto from the rescue agency in Mamuju, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

"There are still people trapped beneath the rubble."

Residents inspect earthquake-damaged houses in Mamuju, West Sulawesi on Jan 15, 2021 after a strong inland and shallow earthquake hit eastern Indonesia. (AP Photo/Rudy Akdyaksyah)
A man walks by a damaged hospital in Mamuju city on Jan 15, 2021, after a 6.2-magnitude earthquake rocked Indonesia's Sulawesi island. (Photo: AFP/Firdaus)

The epicentre of the quake was 6km northeast of Majene city, at a depth of 10km. 

Thousands fled their homes to seek safety when the quake hit just after 1am on Friday morning, damaging at least 60 homes, the agency said.

The quake was felt strongly for about seven seconds but did not trigger a tsunami warning.

Videos on social media showed residents fleeing to higher ground on motorcycles, and a child trapped under the rubble as people tried to remove debris with their bare hands.

Some buildings were badly damaged, including two hotels, the governor's office and a mall, Sudirman Samual, a journalist based in Mamuju, north of the epicentre, told Reuters.

At least one route into Mamuju had been cut off, he said, due to damage to a bridge.

Residents crowd a road as they attempt to leave Mamuju on Jan 15, 2021, after a 6.2-magnitude earthquake rocked Indonesia's Sulawesi island. (Photo: AFP/Firdaus)

A hospital in Mamuju was levelled, according to authorities. 

"The hospital is flattened - it collapsed," said Arianto. "There are patients and hospital employees trapped under the rubble and we're now trying to reach them," he added, without giving a specific figure.

Arianto said rescuers were also trying to reach a family of eight trapped under the rubble of their destroyed home. 

A Mamuju resident said damage across the city was severe.

"Roads are cracked and many buildings collapsed," said 28-year-old Hendra, who also goes by one name.

"The quake was very strong ... I woke up and ran away with my wife."

"TSUNAMI POTENTIAL"

The meteorological agency warned residents that the area could be hit by strong aftershocks and to avoid the beachfront in case of a tsunami.

"The aftershocks could be as strong, or stronger, than this morning's quake," said Dwikorita Karnawati, chief of the meteorological agency.

Rescuers search for survivors at the Mitra Manakarra hospital in Mamuju city on Jan 15, 2021, where as many as 20 patients and staff are trapped beneath the rubble after the hospital was flattened when a 6.2-magnitude earthquake rocked Indonesia's Sulawesi island. (Photo: AFP/Firdaus)

"There is potential for a tsunami from subsequent aftershocks ... Don't wait for a tsunami first because they can happen very quickly," she added.

The local airport in Mamuju had also been damaged, authorities said.

Straddling the Pacific ring of fire, Indonesia, a nation of high tectonic activity, is regularly hit by earthquakes.

In 2018, a devastating 6.2-magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami struck the city of Palu, in Sulawesi, killing thousands of people. 

On Dec 26, 2004, a 9.1-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Sumatra and triggered a tsunami that killed 220,000 throughout the region, including around 170,000 in Indonesia.

Source: AGENCIES

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