Earthquake in Indonesia’s Sulawesi kills at least 67; injures hundreds, displaces thousands

At least 67 people have died after a 6.2-magnitude earthquake hit Indonesia’s Sulawesi island early Friday, Head of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies in Indonesia said.

Hundreds have been injured, according to the country’s disaster mitigation agency.

The epicenter of the quake, which struck at 1:28 am Jakarta time, was six kilometers Northeast of the city of Majene, at a depth of 10 kilometers, according to Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency.

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.

The communications chief also said the quake had damaged four of Mamuju’s largest hospitals.

The affected area was a Covid-19 red zone and so there were concerns about hygiene and safety, officials said.

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.

The country’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency said the earthquake did not trigger a tsunami based on meteorology and climatology agency modeling.

The earthquake also triggered a power outage and caused three landslides along the main road connecting Majene and Mamuju.

Hours earlier on Thursday, a 5.9-magnitude earthquake struck in the same district damaging several houses.

Straddling the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire,” Indonesia, a nation of high tectonic activity, is regularly hit by earthquakes.

In 2018, a devastating 6.2-magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami struck the city of Palu, in Sulawesi, killing thousands of people.