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At least 10 dead after quake sets off landslides, flattens homes in Indonesia

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A strong, shallow earthquake shook Indonesia's Sulawesi island just after midnight, causing landslides and sending people fleeing from their homes in the nighttime darkness. At least 10 people were confirmed dead and more than 200 injured but authorities were still collecting information from devastated areas.

The magnitude 6.2 quake early Friday was centred 36 kilometres south of West Sulawesi province's Mamuju district. Above, people look at a damaged hospital in Mamuju.(Antara Foto/Akbar Tado via REUTERS)

A strong, shallow earthquake shook Indonesia's Sulawesi island just after midnight, causing landslides and sending people fleeing from their homes in the nighttime darkness. At least 10 people were confirmed dead and more than 200 injured but authorities were still collecting information from devastated areas.

In a video released by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, a girl trapped in the wreckage of a house cried out for help and said she heard the sound of other family members in the rubble but was unable to move out. "Please help me, it hurts," the girl told rescuers, who replied that they desperately wanted to help her.

In the video, the rescuers said an excavator was needed to save the girl and others trapped in collapsed buildings. Other images showed a severed bridge, damaged and even flattened houses. TV stations reported the earthquake damaged part of a hospital and patients were moved to an emergency tent outside.

Another video showed a father crying, asking for help to save his children buried under tons of rubble after their house toppled. "My children there … they are trapped inside, please help," he cried in panic.

Thousands of displaced people were evacuated to temporary shelters. The magnitude 6.2 quake early Friday was centred 36 kilometres south of West Sulawesi province's Mamuju district, at a depth of 18 kilometres, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The damaged office building of the governor of West Sulawesi province. Many were were trapped inside the building following the earthquake.(Antara Foto/Akbar Tado/Reuters)

West Sulawesi Administration Secretary Muhammad Idris told TVOne that the governor's office building was among those collapsed in Mamuju, the provincial capital, and many people there remain trapped, including two security guards.

Idris said seven people were confirmed dead so far in Mamuju.

Homes flattened while people slept

Rescuer Saidar Rahmanjaya said a lack of heavy equipment was hampering the operation to clear the rubble from collapsed houses and buildings. He said his team was working to save 20 people trapped in eight buildings, including in the governor's office, a hospital and hotels.

"We are racing against time to rescue them," Rahmanjaya said.

Three other people died in the neighbouring district of Majene when their homes were flattened by the quake while they were sleeping, said Sirajuddin, the district's disaster agency chief.

Sirajuddin, who goes by one name, said at least 218 others have been injured so far and more than 300 houses and buildings were damaged, including a hospital, health clinics, hotels and offices.

Indonesia, a vast archipelago of 260 million people, is frequently struck by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis because of its location on the 'Ring of Fire,' an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.(Antara Foto/Akbar Tado/Reuters)

He said although the inland earthquake did not have the potential to cause a tsunami, people along coastal areas ran to higher ground in fear one might occur. Some 10,000 people are now in shelters.

Located on 'Ring of Fire'

Landslides were set off in three locations and blocked a main road connecting Mamuju to the Majene district, said Raditya Jati, the disaster agency's spokesperson.

On Thursday, a magnitude 5.9 undersea quake hit the same region, damaging several homes but causing no apparent casualties.

Indonesia, a vast archipelago of 260 million people, is frequently struck by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis because of its location on the "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.

In 2018, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake in Palu on Sulawesi island set off a tsunami and caused soil to collapse in a phenomenon called liquefaction. More than 4,000 people died, many of the victims buried when whole neighbourhoods were swallowed in the falling ground.

A powerful Indian Ocean quake and tsunami in 2004 killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries, most of them in Indonesia.

Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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