It was unclear how many people – dead or alive – could still be under the mountains of debris in the aftermath of Friday’s 6.2-magnitude earthquake, as scores of rescuers combed through the destruction, filling body bags with corpses. The powerful earthquake on Indonesia’s Sulawesi island, has killed at least 81 and left thousands homeless.
Excavators and cranes were deployed across the devastated seaside city of Mamuju, where buildings were reduced to a tangled mass of twisted metal and chunks of concrete, including a hospital and the regional governor’s office.
‘The rain poses risks because damaged buildings could collapse if it gets too heavy … and aftershocks could move them too,’ said a rescuer.
Most victims were found in Mamuju, but some were also recovered south of the city of 110,000 people in West Sulawesi province.
Friday’s tremor triggered panic among residents of the island, which was hit by a 2018 quake-tsunami disaster that killed thousands.
Doctors treated patients with broken limbs and other injuries at a makeshift medical centre, set up outside the only hospital in Mamuju that survived relatively intact.
Thousands left homeless by the quake took to makeshift shelters – many little more than tarpaulin-covered tents filled with whole families.
Many survivors are unable to return to their destroyed homes, or were too scared to go back, fearing a tsunami sparked by aftershocks, common after strong earthquakes.
Indonesia, a Southeast Asian archipelago of nearly 270 million people, has been hit by a series of natural disasters this week.
Landslides sparked by torrential rains killed at least 32 on Java island, while dozens are dead or missing after severe flooding pounded another part of Sulawesi and Kalimantan, Indonesia’s section of Borneo.
Volcano Mount Semeru shot a plume of ash and debris some 4.5km into the sky on Saturday night as bright red lava flowed down from its crater. There were no reports of casualties.
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