UPDATED: Death toll in Indonesia earthquake hits 35, officials say

Agency Report

The death toll from a 6.2-magnitude earthquake that hit Indonesia’s Sulawesi Island on Friday has reached at least 35 people and injured hundreds, the latest reports said.

The Indonesian meteorological agency has warned of aftershocks, possibly strong enough to trigger a tsunami. No tsunami warning was issued.

Darno Majid, chief of the disaster agency in West Sulawesi, told Reuters that 35 people had been killed in Majene, and in the neighboring district of Mamuju.

He added that more deaths were likely to be confirmed as rescue workers fanned out.

Initial information from the national disaster mitigation agency showed that 637 people had been injured in Majene, and two dozen in Mamuju.

The powerful quake struck 6 km (3.73 miles) northeast of the town of Majene, at the relatively shallow depth of 10 km, just before 1.30 a.m.

Thousands of frightened residents were sent out of their homes and fleeing for higher ground.

The earthquake and aftershocks caused three landslides, cut electricity, damaged bridges to regional hubs such as the city of Makassar.

It also damaged more than 60 homes, two hotels and the provincial governor’s office, where at least two people were buried under rubble, authorities said.

“Praise be to God, for now OK, but we just felt another aftershock,” said 26-year-old resident Sukri Efendy.

The head of Indonesia’s Meteorology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), Dwikorita Karnawati, told a news conference that aftershocks could follow, with a possibility that another powerful quake could trigger a tsunami.

There had been at least 26 aftershocks, she said, with Friday’s quake preceded by a 5.9 magnitude quake on Thursday afternoon.

West Sulawesi provincial government spokesman Safaruddin said authorities needed to restore telecommunications, mend several damaged bridges and deliver tents, food and medical supplies.

Pictures of the aftermath appeared on social media as the head of the disaster agency and social affairs minister were scheduled to fly in.

Videos showed residents fleeing to higher ground on motorcycles, and a child trapped under the rubble as people tried to remove debris with their hands.

Straddling the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, Indonesia 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.

A 9.1 magnitude quake in Indonesia’s Sumatra island on Boxing Day 2004 triggered a tsunami that swept over Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, and nine other countries, killing more than 230,000 people.

(Reuters/NAN)