A powerful earthquake killed at least 35 people and injured hundreds on Indonesia’s island of Sulawesi on Friday, January 15, trapping several under rubble and unleashing dozens of aftershocks, Reuters reports.
It was gathered that, thousands of frightened residents fled their homes for higher ground when the magnitude 6.2-quake struck 6 km (3.73 miles) northeast of the town of Majene, at a depth of just 10 km, shortly before 1.30 a.m.
The quake and aftershocks damaged more than 300 homes and two hotels, as well as flattening a hospital and the office of a regional governor.
Thirty-four people died in the city of Mamuju, to the north of the epicenter, while another eight died in Majene.
In Majene, at least 637 were injured and 15,000 residents have been displaced, according to the country’s National Board for Disaster Management (BNPB).
Thousands of residents fled their homes to seek safety following the quake, which could be felt strongly for five to seven seconds and damaged at least 300 houses in Majene, BNPB said.
Other buildings have also been badly damaged, including a military command office in Majene, and hotels and government buildings in Mamuju.
Many people are still trapped under collapsed buildings, according to local search and rescue teams.Rescuers search for survivors at a collapsed building in Mamuju city in Indonesia.”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.Another difficulty was the lack of communication among rescue teams, as local telephone networks were down following the quake, he said, adding 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 in the middle of the 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.”
Shalahuddin said he worried that many people were trapped under the debris of the Mitra Manakara private hospital, an eight-floor structure that had been flattened by the quake.
Meanwhile, thousands of people who were able to flee have chosen to stay away from their homes out of fear of another earthquake or tsunami, said West Sulawesi’s Police Grand Commissioner Syamsu Ridwan.
“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,” he said.