Indonesia quake toll hits 56 as rescuers race to seek out survivors | Earthquakes Information
The death toll from a strong earthquake on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi has risen to 56, the authorities said on Sunday. Thousands were left homeless when rescuers ran to find someone still living beneath mountains of rubble.
According to the Civil Protection Agency (BNPB), more than 820 people were injured and about 15,000 left their homes after the magnitude 6.2 quake in the early hours of Friday morning. Some of the panicked residents sought refuge in the mountains while others went to cramped evacuation centers.
Rescue workers have spent days retrieving bodies from under crumpled buildings in Mamuju, a city of 110,000 in West Sulawesi province, where a hospital has flattened and a shopping mall was in ruins.
Others were killed south of the city.
Aerial photos from the shattered coastal city showed buildings reduced to an intricate mass of twisted metal and chunks of concrete, including the regional governor’s office.
This aerial photo shows houses damaged in a 6.2 magnitude earthquake in Mamuju on January 17, 2021 [Adek Berry/ AFP]Rescuers search for victims in the ruins of a building that was flattened during an earthquake in Mamuju, West Sulawesi, Indonesia on January 16, 2021 [Yusuf Wahil/AP]It was unclear how many more bodies could be under the rubble or whether anyone was trapped who was still alive more than two days after the disaster.
Authorities have not given a number of how many survivors were rescued.
A couple of young nurses, torn from under the mass of concrete and other debris, were treated in the hospital.
Lack of food, supplies
Meanwhile, bodies were recovered from a collapsed hospital while five members of a family of eight were found dead in the crumpled remains of their home.
The thousands left homeless by the earthquake were taken to shelters – many little more than tarpaulin-covered tents filled with entire families – that were lashed by heavy monsoon rains.
They said they were running out of food, blankets and other supplies as emergency supplies were being moved to the hardest hit area.
Many survivors are unable to return to their destroyed homes or have been too scared to return because of fears of a tsunami triggered by aftershocks that are common after major earthquakes.
“It’s better to seek refuge before something worse happens,” said Mamuju-resident Abdul Wahab, who took refuge in a tent with his wife and four children, including a baby.
“We hope that the government will soon be able to provide help such as food, medicine and milk to the children,” he added.
People injured in the 6.2 magnitude earthquake that struck early January 15 are being treated outside a regional hospital due to aftershocks in Mamuju on January 17, 2021 [Adek Berry/ AFP]Concerned about a COVID-19 outbreak in the overcrowded camps, authorities said they were trying to separate high and low risk groups.
The epicenter of the earthquake was 36 km south of Mamuju and had a relatively shallow depth of 18 km.
Indonesia, which stretches across the so-called “Pacific Ring of Fire”, is regularly hit by earthquakes. In 2018, a devastating 7.5 magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami hit the city of Palu, Sulawesi, killing thousands.
Just two weeks after the start of the new year, the fourth most populous country in the world is fighting again with several disasters.
Floods in North Sulawesi and South Kalimantan Province each killed at least five people this month, while landslides in West Java Province killed at least 28 people, authorities said.
On January 9, a Sriwijaya Air Jet crashed into the Java Sea with 62 on board.
Mount Semeru in East Java erupted late Saturday, but there were no reports of casualties or evacuations.