At least 35 people were killed after a 6.2-magnitude earthquake rocked Indonesia's West Sulawesi province on Friday, the National Disaster Management Agency said.
Trapping several under rubble and unleashing dozens of aftershocks as authorities warned of more quakes that could trigger a tsunami. "Nine people died in Majene district, and 26 others in Mamuju district, bringing the total death toll to 35," said the West Sulawesi Provincial Disaster Management Agency's head Darno Majid.
In addition, 637 people were injured and around 15,000 others were displaced at 10 evacuation posts, as per reports.
300 houses, hotels, government buildings, hospitals and minimarkets damaged
The earthquake also damaged around 300 houses, hotels, government buildings, hospitals and minimarkets besides cutting off electricity, communications, and roads. The earthquake struck at 2.28 a.m., with the epicentre at 6 km northeast of Majene, and a depth of 10 km.
On Thursday, a 5.9-magnitude earthquake jolted the same location at 2.35 pm. The Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency noted that 28 earthquakes had occurred at the same location since Thursday, and aftershocks were still possible.
Pictures of the aftermath appeared on social media as the head of the disaster agency and social affairs minister prepared to visit. Videos showed residents fleeing to higher ground on motorcycles, and a young girl trapped under rubble as people tried to shift debris with their hands.
President Joko Widodo offered condolences
President Joko Widodo offered condolences to the victims in a video statement, urging people to stay calm and authorities to step up search efforts.
Key tasks for officials are restoring telecoms and bridge links and ensuring delivery of tents, food and medical supplies, said West Sulawesi provincial government spokesman Safaruddin. About 15,000 people have fled their homes since the quake, the disaster agency has said, with the coronavirus pandemic likely to complicate aid distribution.
"It is certainly one of the most challenging, this (disaster) was one of our fears and now we are putting all of that planning and protocols into place," said Jan Gelfand, head of the International Federation of Red Cross in Indonesia. Straddling the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, Indonesia is regularly hit by earthquakes.