Indonesia hunts for survivors after deadly quake in Sulawesi

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Jan. 15 (UPI) — A search for survivors was underway Friday in Indonesia after a 6.2-magnitude earthquake hit the country’s Sulawesi Island. Buildings collapsed and at least 35 people have died.

The quake, which occurred at 1:28 a.m. local time was about 4 miles from Majene city, according to Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency, CNN reported. At least eight people have died and 637 people were injured in Majene city, with more deaths being reported from the adjacent Mamuju area, according to Indonesia’s National Board for Disaster Management.

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Footage of the earthquake uploaded to social media platforms showed collapsed buildings. Videos showed rescue teams at the site, pulling out a young girl from under the rubble, who identified herself by her first name, but later passed out after being loaded onto a stretcher.

Saidar Rahmanjaya, chief of the Local Search and Rescue Agency of Mamuju, told Indonesian media the rescue teams don’t have the heavy equipment to save more people.

Authorities are also working to restore communications amid a power outage, according to Al Jazeera.

A resident of Mamuju told CNN many people remain trapped under collapsed buildings because they were asleep when the quake struck at night.

“We saved four family members but one still can’t be evacuated,” Shalahuddin Salman told CNN.

Dwikorita Karnawati, director of the meteorological agency, said in a briefing to reporters the threat of a tsunami in the aftermath of the quake prevails, since the epicenter was not far from Indonesia’s beaches.

Some Indonesian officials are not convinced a tsunami could occur, however.

Sulawesi’s Police Grand Commissioner Syamsu Ridwan said he had confirmation there would be no tsunami. But thousands of people have fled their homes for higher ground, according to reports.

Indonesia is part of the “Ring of Fire,” an area of the Pacific that includes volcanic islands and seismic activity. In 2004, more than 170,000 people died in a tsunami near Sumatra Island. In 2018, more than 4,300 people died or went missing in Palu on Sulawesi after a 7.5-magnitude earthquake.

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