Strong quake in Indonesia’s Sulawesi kills at least 7, injures hundreds

JAKARTA: A 6.2-magnitude earthquake on Indonesia’s Sulawesi island killed at least seven people and injured hundreds on Friday (Jan 15), the country’s disaster mitigation agency (BNPB) said, as panicked residents fled to safer areas after many buildings were damaged.

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

Initial information from BNPB showed that four people had died and 637 others were injured in Majene, while there were three more fatalities and two dozen injured in the neighbouring province of Mamuju.

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)

Thousands had 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.

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)

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.

Hours earlier on Thursday, a 5.9-magnitude earthquake struck in the same district damaging several houses and injuring one person, said BNPB in a previous statement.

The earlier quake’s epicentre was 4km northwest of Majene, at a depth of 10km.

This handout photo taken and released on January 15, 2021 by Indonesia’s National Disaster Agency (BASARNAS) shows rescuers looking for survivors trapped in a collapsed building in Mamuju, after a 6.2-magnitude earthquake rocked Sulawesi island. HANDOUT (handout/NATIONAL SEARCH AND RESCUE AGENCY / AFP)
A collapsed building following a 6.2 magnitude earthquake in Mamuju, West Sulawesi, Indonesia. – EPA/Basarnas/Handout

Residents fled their homes after strong ground movement for around three to four seconds, said the statement. There was also no tsunami warning for the earlier quake.

BNPB said a series of quakes in the past 24 hours had caused at least three landslides, and the electricity supply had been cut.

A strong, magnitude-6.2 earthquake struck the Indonesian province of West Sulawesi on Friday

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 more than 4,300 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: AFP/Reuters/CNA/mi

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