A 6.2-magnitude earthquake hit Indonesia on Friday, killing at least 34 people and levelling a hospital with more than a dozen people trapped inside, AFP reported, citing authorities. More than 600 people were injured.
“The hospital is flattened – it collapsed,” said Arianto, from a rescue agency in Mamuju city. “There are patients and hospital employees trapped under the rubble and we’re now trying to reach them.” Rescuers were also trying to help an eight-member family trapped under the debris of their home, he added.
Ali Rahman, the head of the local disaster mitigation agency, said that many of those dead in the earthquake were also trapped under the debris of collapsed buildings. “The latest information we have is that 26 people are dead... in Mamuju city,” Rahman said. He added that the numbers were likely to increase.
The country’s disaster agency said at least eight people died in another city in West Sulawesi province, bringing the toll to 34.
The country’s search-and-rescue agency said that a hotel had collapsed and the regional governor’s office in Mamuju suffered extensive damage. A resident of the city said damage across the city was severe. “Roads are cracked and many buildings collapsed,” said 28-year-old Hendra. “The quake was very strong... I woke up and ran away with my wife.”
The United States Geological Survey said that the earthquake’s epicentre was 36 kms south of Mamuju and had a relatively shallow depth of 18 km. Indonesia’s Meteorology and Geophysics Agency head Dwikorita Karnawati said a 5.9-magnitude quake had also occurred on Thursday afternoon, with at least 26 aftershocks in the area, Reuters reported.
Although the earthquake did not trigger a Tsunami warning, people were seen fleeing the seaside in vehicles amid broken roads and collapsed buildings. The meteorological agency chief, however, said that more aftershocks could follow, which could be stronger than the earthquake.
“There is potential for a tsunami from subsequent aftershocks... Don’t wait for a tsunami first because they can happen very quickly,” she added.
Indonesia experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity, leading to earthquakes and tsunamis. This is because of its position on the Pacific Ring of Fire where tectonic plates collide.
In 2004, a 9.1-magnitude earthquake had hit the coast of Sumatra, triggering a tsunami that killed around 2.2 lakh people in the area. Around 1.7 lakhs died in Indonesia.
In 2018, a 7.5-magnitude earthquake, followed by a tsunami, in Indonesia’s Sulawesi island had left over 4,300 people dead or missing.